Press Release
February 21, 2022

De Lima expresses deep concern about a report on OFWs in HK getting fired after testing positive for COVID-19

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima urged authorities to urgently look into reports alleging that some Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong had been fired by their employers after testing positive for COVID-19.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said the government should confirm and swiftly investigate the said report.

"It is unfortunate to hear reports about our overseas workers, who work day and night to be able to provide better opportunities for their families, being allegedly subjected to unjust treatments," she said.

"Hindi natin pwedeng palampasin lang ang ganitong balita nang walang masusing imbestigasyon upang matukoy kung ano ang totoo. Kailangang makumpirma ang mga ulat upang mapanagot ang mga pabayang employers, at kung hindi man ay makapaglatag pa rin ng mekanismo ang gobyerno upang mapangalagaan ang ating OFWs kung magkaroon ng ganitong mga walang konsiderasyong gawain," she added.

The Philippine consul reportedly said last Feb. 20 that some Filipino workers who tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong were either fired or driven away by their employers.

Consul General Raly Tejada said that some 30 OFWs in Hong Kong have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past few days, detailing that the consulate has rescued up to 10 Filipino workers who were forced to sleep outdoors after being sacked by employers after contracting the virus.

In response, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, citing the report of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), said there were no reports of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) getting retrenched.

The lady Senator from Bicol said the DOLE cannot simply ignore the report by the Philippine consul and do nothing about it.

"If we really care about our workers abroad, then we cannot just let this issue pass, unacted upon, and be buried. Hindi naman po pwedeng magwalang kibo na lang dito, habang walang kasiguruhan kung may napapabayaan tayong mga kababayang nakikipagsapalaran sa ibayong dagat," she said.

"Many of our OFWs have already endured months or even years away from their loved ones. We should not let them carry any more burden because we refuse to proactively assist them," she added.

This 18th Congress, De Lima filed proposed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 497 directing the appropriate Senate Committee to look into the status of the national government's OFW repatriation and assistance programs amid reports of continuing delays and inefficiencies in their implementation.

Concerned about the reported delays in the release of repatriated OFWs from their designated isolation and quarantine facilities in 2020, De Lima filed SR No. 426 seeking to identify the lapses in government's repatriation program and help determine any accountability for the suffering of the OFW repatriates.

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