DFA assures aid for Filipino arrested in Hong Kong

Robie de Guzman   •   August 6, 2019   •   449

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has assured to provide assistance to an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was arrested for allegedly participating in ongoing anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Citing reports from its Consulate General’s office in Hong kong, the DFA said consular officers have visited the arrested Filipino, whom they say is in “good condition.”

The OFW is currently under investigation for “unlawful assembly” over his alleged participation in the protests.

He, however, “categorically denied” any involvement in the rallies, the DFA said.

“The Filipino categorically denied that he was taking part in the protest, and insisted that he was just in the area to buy food, passing through the side streets, knowing that protests were ongoing in the main streets,” the department said in a statement issued on Monday.

“However, protesters were also on the side street where he was, and the former started running as they were chased by riot police. He was accosted by the police in the belief that he was one of the protesters,” it added.

Deputy Consul General to Hong Kong Germinia Aguilar-Usudan assured they are closely coordinating with Hong Kong authorities and the Filipino’s lawyers for his release.

They are also making sure that the OFW’s legal rights (and his assertions of innocence) are duly respected.

It also reiterated its advice for Filipinos to stay alert and avoid protest areas, as well as, refrain from wearing clothing or carrying anything that could mistakenly identify them as part of the demonstrations.

READ: Filipinos in Hong Kong urged to stay away from 7 protest areas

“The Consulate General continues to monitor the situation in Hong Kong and is ready to provide assistance to Filipinos if needed,” it said.

Filipino maid tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong “in good condition”

Marje Pelayo   •   February 20, 2020

HONG KONG – The Philippine Consulate General’s office confirmed on Thursday (February 20) that the Filipino maid who contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is now in stable condition.

Maganda ang kaniyang disposisyon at hindi siya kinakikitaan ng sintomas ng sakit gaya ng sipon, ubo, at lagnat (Her disposition is good and she is not showing signs of illness like cold, cough or fever),” the Consulate General’s office said in a statement.

Siya ay nasa mabuting kalagayan (She is in good condition),” the office confirmed.

The Pinay worker, however, is still not allowed to accept visitors as the results of the series of tests on her samples are still pending.

The Consulate preferred not to disclose the identity of the Filipino helper as requested by the patient herself but the office assured to provide her the necessary assistance on the course of her recovery.

Meanwhile, the Consulate General’s Office reiterates its appeal to the public not to spread fake news on social media so as not to cause panic.

Muli rin pong nanawagan ang Konsulado na iwasan ang pagpapakalat ng mga ‘fake news’ o anumang impormasyon na hindi beripikado (The Consulate Office reiterates our call (on Filipinos) to avoid spreading fake news or any unverified information),” the Consulate General’s office stressed.

Ito po ay upang maiwasan ang alarma at pagaalala lalo na ng ating mga mahal sa buhay (So as not to cause alarm and panic among our relatives),” it added.

Official information and updates regarding the situation of Filipinos in Hong Kong in relation to COVID-19 outbreak may be accessed on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PHLinHK/.  

Health waivers mandatory for Filipinos leaving for Hong Kong, Macau

Marje Pelayo   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino household helpers may now return to their employers in Hong Kong after the Philippine government ordered a partial lifting of the travel ban amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay confirmed the order on Tuesday (February 18) as Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that the partial lifting was in response to the mounting requests from returning workers to Hong Kong.

“There had been persistent requests from the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) themselves,” he said.

“In fact, I received one call that he was fired from that position because he has not gone back, maybe that’s the reason why,” he added.

However, confusions emerged over the terms and conditions for their return, specifically the government’s requirement that they sign a written declaration acknowledging the risk of coronavirus infection if they head to the administrative territory.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stressed that such declaration is mandatory.

“With the exemption, OFWs returning to Hong Kong and Macau shall be required to execute a declaration which states that they are aware of the risks involved,” the DFA said in an advisory.

“Newly-hired Filipino employees are likewise exempted from the ban as long as they also sign the form that can be obtained from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA),” it added.

Nonetheless, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin assured that despite the risk, the government will always be ready to provide them assistance even as one Filipino maid has been confirmed positive for the virus.

“Don’t worry, they’ll sign health waivers but we won’t waive our obligation to take care of them wherever they are,” Locsin said.

Aside from the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Filipinos with permanent residency status in Macau and China are also allowed to depart as well as Filipino students enrolled there.

Meanwhile, Filipino travelers from China with foreign spouses and their children will also be allowed entry to the Philippines as well as all holders of diplomatic visas subject to a 14-day quarantine period upon arrival.

Locsin orders immediate repatriation of Filipinos on quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has ordered the immediate repatriation of Filipinos aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Locsin announced he has ordered the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan to repatriate Filipinos on the ship after its passengers who tested negative for novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were allowed to disembark after the 14-day quarantine period.

“I have ordered our Tokyo Embassy to immediately repatriate our people in the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohoma Japan. It’s our duty to take care of our Overseas Filipinos wherever they are. I want them home now!” he said.

As of Wednesday, February 19, 41 Filipino crew members of the ship were found positive for COVID-19. Like other people on the ship confirmed to be infected with the virus, the Filipinos were brought to hospitals in Japan to undergo treatment.

The DFA earlier said there are 531 Filipino crew members and seven passengers aboard the quarantined cruise ship. Around 400 of them have expressed their desire to be repatriated to the Philippines.

The department said they have been coordinating with Japanese authorities and the operator of the vessel to ensure that everything would be smooth once the repatriation process begins.

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