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No replacement found for Labatt Jolly – yet

29 March 2019

By The SUN

Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre is not likely to leave Hong Kong yet. Not at the end of this month, at least.

This emerged as Labatt Dela Torre was reportedly told stay put in Hong Kong because no replacement had yet been found for him. Neither has he received his marching order for his supposed next posting to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

His three-year term in Hong Kong is supposed to last only until Mar 31 this year.

Consul General Antonio A. Morales said he was also surprised on being invited to a farewell party for Dela Torre on Mar 25, as he had not been informed that the labor official’s term had ended.

He said as a matter of practice, an appointment letter or recall order from a government agency attached to an embassy or consulate would be coursed through the head of post. But he said he had not received such communication from Manila.

He made his remarks as he received a petition letter signed by around 5,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, calling for Dela Torre to be retained in his post. An online signature campaign for the petition started only a day earlier, already had around 800 supporters.

More signatures are expected to submitted this coming Sunday, when the petition is circulated among various other groups in the community.

“We can assure you that we will convey it to our Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin, pero siyempre ang talagang nakakapagdesisyon niyan ay si (Labor) Secretary (Silvestre) Bello,” ConGen Morales said after skimming through the petition.

He said he would transmit the petition to the Department of Foreign Affairs the same day.

Congen Morales was accompanied by his deputy, Germina Usudan, and Consul Roderico Atienza, in receiving the petition.

Those who handed it in were Eman Villanueva of Bayan HK-Macau, Bishop Gerry Vallo of Global Ministers Association of HK, Merlinda Mercado of Metrobank Remittance, Dolores Balladares-Pelaez of Unifil-Migrante, Sheila Tebia of Gabriela HK, Pastora Diosy Mendoza, and Vir B. Lumicao of The SUN.

Two days earlier, Dela Torre was feted at Linklaters in Central by around 100 people from various sectors, including non-government organizations, the academe and legal profession, business and migrant workers.

The sendoff was hosted by former Hong Kong legislator Emily Lau, and co-organized by human rights lawyers Alan Bell and David Bishop.

“We don’t want you to go,” said Lau to Dela Torre, adding that the petition calling for him to remain in Hong Kong was going to be signed by everyone at the gathering.

Lau cited the labor attaché for his work in cracking down on the “bad agencies” and on putting a stop to the trafficking of Filipino workers to other places.

In his tribute, Congen Morales said it was clear the labor attaché had the support of many people in the community. He cited in particular the two emotional protests by various Filcom organizations against Bello’s earlier decision to recall Dela Torre.

The protests which received extensive media coverage, resulted in Dela Torre being sent back to Hong Kong in October last year, after being in the freezer for six months.

Morales also credited Dela Torre for the insertion of the ban on dangerous window cleaning in the standard employment contract of foreign domestic workers.

Employment agency owner Vincent Lau who also gave tribute,  emphasized the importance of this ground-breaking move by exclaiming, “That contract has not been touched for 10 years!”.

Lau said Dela Torre should also be credited for two other big achievements- his successful campaign to end third-country  deployments of Filipino domestic workers and his crackdown on approving  job contracts for Filipinas working in bars in Wanchai.

The same sentiments were aired by The SUN editor Daisy CL Mandap who said she and publisher Leo A. Deocadiz had worked closely with Dela Torre since he was first posted as deputy labor attaché in Hong Kong in 1998.

This collaboration included doing outreach Know Your Rights seminars for FDWs, running an advice column on workers’ labor and legal concerns, and The SUN’s publication of  Dela Torre’s book, “Survive Hong Kong”.

More recently, Dela Torre also worked with The SUN on uncovering illegal recruitment and human trafficking activities, rescuing abused workers, and putting a stop to sleazy shows put together by a beauty contest organizer.

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Even more touching were the comments posted online by migrant workers who signed the petition for Dela Torre’s retention. Here are some of them:

“We still need his service in Hong Kong.  He is the greatest Labatt ever,” — Nimfa Dulfo.

“Hong Kong OFWs need Labatt. He has a good heart, he is a good person,” – Rodelie Acosta.

“I’m signing because I want him to stay here in Hong Kong. He is very helpful and ready to come to help. We need him here to be a voice for us. I wish he could stay and serve longer here. Thank you for listening and considering us about this matter. God bless.” – Mercy Vargas

“Ano mang oras at may katanungan o problema ang isang OFW, agad na may kasagutan at tulong si Labatt Dela Torre. HK OFWs need him. Fearless and excellent public servant. One of a kind.” – Jo Campos


“We want him to stay, please!!! He is a one of a kind person and has a big heart. He helps OFWs here in Hong Kong and I’m the one, he’s helping me about my work situation with my employer.” – Maridel Forcadilla

“Sir Jolly saved my trembling hands and feet when he stopped the dangerous window cleaning. Thank you so much for all the good things you have done for us. I pray, Sir, that you will be retained in Hong Kong for more years of excellent and dedicated service. God bless you.” – Delia Gonzales

“I want him to stay in Hong Kong because I see how he cares about the migrant worker. I like his leadership”.- Jazel Tampepe

“He is the best option for the job.” – Josie Dionisio

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“We need him because he loves us.” – Jovelyn Ayap

“He’s a good man. Even how busy he is if you ask help from him you can talk to him…and that’s why I am amazed because not all in position can do that…giving you time and effort..God bless you more Sir Dela Torre.” – Jenneth Senson

“Tatay Labatt has a big heart for the OFWs here in Hong Kong.” – Mary Rose Pragata

“Si Labatt dela Torre ay nararapat na manatiling magsilbi para sa mga OFW sa Hong Kong. Let’s all sign this petition.” – Golda Mae Pay-ong

“He is a good public servant. He listens, he makes reforms with humility. The community needs him.” – Dolores Balladares-Pelaez

“Because I care.”- Raymond Flores

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