PH mulls over lifting travel ban in HK, Macau

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 17, 2020   •   1134

The Philippine government is mulling over lifting the travel ban in Hong Kong and Macau amid the COVID-19 threat.

This is amid the call of Filipinos in Hong Kong to lift the travel ban in the said country.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Infectious Disease will release an update on the issue by Tuesday (February 18).

“Pag-uusapan iyong mga issues about Hong Kong and even Macau, so baka bukas po mayroong developments on the particular issue (They will discuss the issues about Hong Kong and even Macau so there might be developments on the particular issue by tomorrow),” according to DFA Asec. Ed Meñez.

The Philippine government already lifted the travel ban in Taiwan after it drew criticisms from the Taiwanese government and several Filipinos in the said country.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there are things to consider if the government will lift the travel ban in Hong Kong and Macau.

“Now we’re assessing travel ban on Macau and Hong Kong, so depende, kasi ang mahalaga sa atin, kay Presidente, iyong safety ng mga kababayan natin (It depends because what is important to us, to the President is the safety of our fellowmen),” he said.

Panelo also said the travel ban in Taiwan was lifted due to how strict their protocols are and the assurance that the Filipinos in Taiwan are safe amid the virus scare.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Philippines hopes Hong Kong won’t single out OFWs in compulsory COVID-19 vaccination

Robie de Guzman   •   May 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government on Monday expressed hope that Hong Kong authorities will not single out overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in its plan to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for foreign domestic workers.

While the Philippine government welcomes a state’s prerogative to require vaccination, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Filipino migrant workers should not be singled out.

“Alam niyo po ang equal protection clause is not just a provision in the Philippine Bill of Rights, it is accepted already in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights at sakop po ng kanyang applicability ang Hong Kong,” Roque said in an online briefing

“Sana po ‘wag i-single put ang ating mga OFW bagama’t we recognize yung sovereign prerogative na i-require ang bakuna,” he added.

“We have an early 1905 case na sinustain po ng korte suprema ng Pilipinas ang mandatory vaccination against smallpox as a form in part and parcel of police power pero pati po ang exercise of power must be done in a manner na lahat po ng tao ay sasakupin. Wag naman pong magkaroon ng singling out,” he further stated.

Earlier media reports stated that Hong Kong health officials are planning to make COVID-19 testing and vaccination mandatory for some 370,000 domestic helpers before they can renew their contract.

The plan comes after two migrant workers were found infected with the more virulent variant of the novel coronavirus disease.

Groups of migrant workers in Hong Kong have criticized the plan, saying it is “discriminatory and unjust.”

Phl Consulate General in HK to appeal proposed mandatory vaccination for domestic workers

Marje Pelayo   •   May 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —  The Hong Kong government is planning to impose a new policy requiring domestic helpers to get anti-COVID jab before they are allowed to work there.

This new policy follows the Hong Kong government’s order on mandatory swab testing among domestic helpers after two foreign workers tested positive for a more contagious variant of COVID-19.

But according to Philippine Consulate General Rally Tejada, the new policy would discriminate against domestic helpers as it is exclusively directed to their sector.

“It would have been better if concerned consulate generals like the Philippines, Indonesia, and other countries of origin were consulted on this matter as it involves the substantive rights of our nationals,” he said.

“If vaccination becomes a condition to work in Hong Kong, then its application should be non-discriminatory so that there is no feeling among our foreign domestic workers that they are being singled out. Maraming non-residents [workers] din na similarly situated so bakit sila lang (There are many non-resident workers who are similarly situated, so why just them [domestic workers])?” he said.

Tejada said they will try to appeal the proposed policy even though the Hong Kong government has yet to announce its implementation.

Wala pang date ng implementation ang mandatory vaccination sa mga mag-renew ng visa  (There’s no date yet for the implementation of mandatory vaccination among those who wish to renew their visa) so we will try to convince the Hong Kong government to keep vaccination voluntary at huwag gawing kondisyon para makapagtrabaho (and not make it mandatory as a prerequisite for employment),” Tejada noted.

Currently, there are around 370,000 Filipinos living and working in Hong Kong.  Of this number, more than 200,000 are foreign domestic workers, the Philippine Consulate General said.

Hong Kong imposes 14-day travel ban vs. Philippines, India, Pakistan over mutant COVID strain

Marje Pelayo   •   April 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Hong Kong government issued a temporary travel ban on flights from neighboring India, Pakistan, and the Philippines after reports of the presence of a specific COVID-19 strain in these countries.

This, after the Hong Kong government implemented on April 14 the tightened flight-specific suspension mechanism along with the new place-specific flight suspension mechanism.

The 14-day travel ban, which will take effect Tuesday (April 20), applies to all people from the said countries which the Hong Kong government considered as ‘extremely high risk.’

“With confirmed cases involving the N501Y mutant strain detected for the first time in the community in Hong Kong, for prudence’s sake, the Government has applied the criteria of the newly implemented place-specific flight suspension mechanism retrospectively for 14 days on places where there had been imported cases confirmed by arrival tests that carried the N501Y mutant strain,” the Hong Kong government said.

“India, Pakistan, and the Philippines all had seven-day cumulative number of relevant cases that reached the relevant criteria in the past 14 days, and the Government will therefore invoke the place-specific flight suspension mechanism for these three places,” it added.

Those who came from the said countries but are already quarantined in Hong Kong must get tested on their 26th day in the city under emergency measures.

Those who have traveled to these three countries in the last 21 days as well as those who stayed for more than two hours on the day of boarding will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong.

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