Allow Filipino HK residents & OFWs to return to Hong Kong
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The temporary travel ban imposed last February 2, 2020, Sunday prohibited ALL Filipino passport holders, regardless of the purpose of travel and without any distinction to visa held, to depart for Hong Kong.
This well-meaning ban, aimed to secure Filipino's health and safety, has affected the following groups of people:
- Filipino foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), mostly breadwinners of their families who have invested so much to be able to work abroad and most call Hong Kong home
- Filipino HK permanent residents, who either have been born, raised & educated in HK or have lived there for more than 7 years and they call Hong Kong home
- Filipino skilled workers and professionals, who have been lucky enough to be sponsored by established companies which needed to strongly justify why they would hire a Filipino versus a local candidate. These professionals call Hong Kong home.
Discussions have largely been focused on the effect of this ban on foreign domestic helpers and solutions put forward by the government --- 10K cash assistance, alternative livelihood and redeployment --- show how they have forgotten 2 groups equally affected by the ban - Filipino HK permanent residents, skilled workers and professionals.
These solutions are not relevant to us. We are struggling...
✖ being separated from our families and partners who live in HK
✖ managing bosses with our indefinite leave of absence
✖ figuring out how to pay for our exorbitant rents (+ other monthly bills) without this month's income
✖ worrying that if we get sick in the Philippines, we will not have as good a coverage had we been in HK
Healthcare. As HK ID card holders, ALL of us --- FDHs, HK PR, professionals ---benefit from the public healthcare system in HK. For us, skilled workers & professionals, we have comprehensive private healthcare coverage --- which we would not be able to access here in the Philippines. If we get sick here in the Philippines, we would have to either foot the bill to get private healthcare or we would add to the already overwhelming demand in public hospitals.
For FDHs, their employers are required to take out insurance for them. This is a LEGAL requirement under HK's Employees’ Compensation Ordinance which grants FDHs the same benefits as other workers in Hong Kong.
Job security. Companies invest a lot to hire non-locals. Getting a job in Hong Kong is no joke as companies have to strongly justify why they can't hire a Hong Kongese. In exchange for the premium that companies pay as we are non-locals, we are expected to deliver. In normal circumstances, most companies cannot even tolerate a 2-week planned leave, what more a sudden indefinite leave of absence? As we were all caught by surprise, most of us do not even have access to company-issued laptops and phones and thus, cannot work remotely.
For FDHs, how can we expect employers to wait until they arrive? Employers employ FDHs for a purpose --- so they themselves can go to work.
Income, Expenses. As the year has just started, most of us do not have vacation leave allocations. Most of us had to already take five (5 leaves without pay. With HK's trying times, it would already be very generous for companies to accept our extended absence and grant us leave without pay. Yes, this may not sound as bad as getting fired, but for us, employees, this doesn't change the apartment bill we have to pay. Bills do not stop if we are not in Hong Kong. We would have to pay a month's worth of rent without any income. This is enough to put us in debt, especially since it is tax payment season.
For FDHs, is P10,000 enough to cover their living costs here and everything that their remittance usually covered? We highly doubt it.
Life. Beyond money, for most of us, LIFE is in HONG KONG --- children, partners, families. Some of us have routine medical treatments to go to and important commitments that require physical presence in Hong Kong (eg. taking care of kids/elder parents, transferring apartments, processing taxes, etc.)
We hope these points could be taken into consideration now that we are entering the 2nd week of the ban.
✅Give us the same choice you extended to those Filipinos living in Wuhan ------- stay or return back to Hong Kong, our home.
✅Give us the choice to sign a waiver that we bear all risks.
✅Give us an opportunity to prove to you, through insurance documents, that our health and safety are secured in Hong Kong.
✅Give us back our lives.
We may not get sick with the coronavirus but the undue stress this ban has imposed on us is not far from causing us sickness.
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