THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong to stay indoors and keep away from protest rallies there.
“I urge and advise our OFWs in Hong Kong to be mindful about their safety amid the tension between government authorities and pro-democracy protesters calling for universal suffrage in Hong Kong,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Stay indoors as much as possible, and keep in touch with our POLO [Philippine Overseas Labor Office],” Baldoz added.
She said the OFWs should “avoid places where marches and protests are happening.”
Joining demonstrations or any protest action, Baldoz noted, may put Filipinos “in contravention of Hong Kong laws.”
“The reason you are in Hong Kong is to work, not to engage in any political activity,” she pointed out.
Baldoz assured the families of the OFWs in the former British colony that the DOLE is in regular contact with the POLO and Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong because the two agencies are closely monitoring the situation.
“We will regularly disseminate accurate and relevant information on what’s happening in Hong Kong for the guidance of our OFWs,” she said.
On Tuesday, the DOLE chief directed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to monitor the situation and condition of the OFWs through licensed recruitment agencies that deployed them to Hong Kong.
Baldoz also instructed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to put its welfare officers in Hong Kong on notice and to be alert for any sign of disturbance that may imperil the safety and welfare of the OFWs.
Despite the government’s warning, reports said some Filipinos joined the rally in sympathy with the pro-democracy protesters.
A story uploaded by GMA News on its website said its stringer in Hong Kong, Azon Cañete, reported that some OFWs were among the thousands who participated in the demonstrations.
Canete said some of the Filipinos who joined the protest rallies were brought there by their wards.
A leader of an OFW group said they were not inviting others to join, Canete also reported.
(Source: Manila Times, October 2, 2014)