MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III clarified that the Philippine government did not ban the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Hong Kong.
There was also no order from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) mandating the repatriation of OFWs, amid protests that have plunged Hong Kong into crisis.
Bello issued the statement on Sunday, October 20, in response to the spread of false social media posts that claimed the Philippines ordered the mandatory repatriation of OFWs due to "the escalation of violence and protests threatening the safety of Filipinos in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory."
"Right now there is no communication from the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and even from the consulate of Hong Kong regarding the possibility of repatriation, either voluntary or mandatory. We are in close coordination with the DFA for any development," Bello said.
He urged the public to ignore false information shared online and to rely only on advisories from the DFA, DOLE, and Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong.
"For those spreading it, please stop and let us not aggravate the situation and endanger our OFWs. We should help our OFWs there by not giving them false news about [mandatory] repatriation," Bello said.
The labor secretary added that despite protests dragging on for months, "no OFW in Hong Kong has expressed willingness to come home or seek assistance for repatriation."
The Philippine government earlier reminded Filipinos living in and traveling to Hong Kong to avoid areas of protests, stay vigilant, and refrain from wearing black or white – colors associated with those involved in the protests. (A schedule of protests until the end of October can be found here.)
Spurred by a deeply unpopular extradition bill, demonstrations in Hong Kong have broadened into wider demands for democratic reform. The protests are now widely considered as the biggest challenge to China's rule since the city's handover from Britain in 1997. – Rappler.com