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Roke disrupts migrant workers' Sunday off

24 July 2017

 By Vir B. Lumicao 

Typhoon Roke barely made its presence felt in Hong Kong on Sunday, July 23, despite Signal No. 8 being hoisted in the morning. But it did play havoc on the activities of migrant workers spending their only day off in the week. 

Edinburgh Place and Tamar were wide open spaces as domestic workers gathered under bridges, car parks, covered walks and underneath awnings as a few showers fell. But that was all that came with Roke..

Chater Road was also nearly  empty while Worldwide House was less crowded than usual as workers sought refuge elsewhere while others were reportedly called back by their employers.

The second-highest typhoon alert was raised by the Hong Kong Observatory at 9:20am with the approach of Roke. The alert was downgraded to No 3 at 1:30pm and further to No 1 at 3:10pm as Roke moved away from the territory. By 6pm Sunday, all signals were lowered.


Hit by the typhoon was a scheduled protest march against the new OFW ID and a move by Philippine Customs to impose more stringent requirements for sending home a balikbayan box.

The protest was called off by organizers United Filipinos in Hong Kong-Migrante (Unifil-Migrante) at 10am, according to its secretary general Eman Villanueva.

“We had no choice but to call off the planned march when the police kept asking us whether we would proceed,” Villanueva said during a phone inquiry by The SUN.

He said the group would proceed with the protest action next Sunday, July 30.

OFWs who were queuing up for services at the Consulate in United Centre were let into the tower via a back entrance as security personnel got the building ready for a possible onslaught by the typhoon. 

Those who had lined up to get into the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Admiralty Centre were a bit alarmed when guards battened down the steel shutters of the walkway going into the building. 

But a Polo officer said it was normal procedure when Signal 8 is hoisted, He also said they asked the building management to keep one passageway open so those who had to transact business could go directly to the Polo offices..

Both the Consulate and Polo continued to serve those who were inside their premises during the typhoon.

Anticipating the hoisting of Signal No 8, the Consulate opened its gate at 8am to those with business transactions and the public area was packed with people by the time the alert was raised, said an officer.

“We let in all those with business to transact and by 11:30am all the transactions were done,” the officer said.

At Admiralty Centre, OEC exemption processing continued the whole day, with about 200 exemptions issued and some 50 BMOnline registrants assisted..

The crowd at Polo thinned by about 4pm as a big number of OFWs had turned back when they saw the gates to Admiralty Centre already shuttered at the height of the typhoon.

Bad weather notwithstanding, a batch of 32 participants in an agriculture livelihood training program of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration held their graduation in the POLO office on the 11th floor of Admiralty Centre Tower 1.

In Kennedy Town, a group of OFWs braved the stormy weather to attend a new financial literacy training session provided by CARD Hong Kong.
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