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OFWs support the protesters’ cause, but…

14 June 2019

By The SUN

While the Consulate has warned Filipinos to stay away from areas where the ongoing mass protests in Hong Kong are being held, it has stopped short of advising them, particularly migrant workers, not to join the rallies.

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The 2014 pro-democracy protests in Tamar
This was unlike during the pro-democracy protests in 2014, when then Consul General Bernardita Catalla issued an explicit warning to Filipinos against joining the well-publicized mass actions, saying it could jeopardize their stay in Hong Kong.

Told about this, Consul General Tony Morales expressed surprise, saying Hong Kong does not seem to be that repressive, judging from the active involvement of some Filipino migrant leaders in protests they organized themselves, or by local activists.

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Villanueva in a rally for wage increase: Will the HK govrt be as tolerant now?
However, one of the familiar faces in these mass movements, Eman Villanueva, has himself advised migrants to take a more judicious look at whether joining the ongoing demonstrations could imperil their jobs or safety in Hong Kong.
“Nasa mga OFWs na ito kung lalahok sila o hindi. Hindi kami maaring mag impose sa sino man kasi right naman ng lahat na lumahok o hindi. Pero kung mag decide sila na lumahok, kailangang araling mabuti ang kalagayan at umiwas sa mga direct confrontation sa mga pulis. Tandaan na dahil kinategorya nang “riot” ang naganap na komprontasyon kahapon, sino mang mahuli at masampahan ng kaso ay maaring makulong ng up to 10 years. Maari itong maging dahilan ng pagkawala ng trabaho. Nauunawaan naman ng mga lokal na activists bakit limitado ang partisipasyon ng nga migrants,” he said.

But at the same time, he said migrant workers should also be concerned about the extradition bill, which is the focal point of the protests. He said everyone in Hong Kong should realize that if the bill is passed, it could be used by tyrannical rulers to their advantage, “kagaya sa Pilipinas.”

Other migrant leaders say that it will be safer for them to keep a low profile, while privately supporting the protesters.

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Queensway chaos: Motorists tried to block buses getting into Admiralty from Central on Jun 12, but were thwarted
“Hinahangaan namin ang pagkakaisa ng mga taga-Hong Kong, ang apoy ng kanilang paninindigan ay napakatatag at nagliliyab,” said Lorna Pagaduan, head of the Philippine Nurses Association Hong Kong.

However, Pagaduan said it will be more prudent for migrants to show their support silently, “para mapanatili namin ang seguridad din ng aming pananatili at malayo sa anumang pangyayari na maaring makaladkad ang aming mga amo, at ang aming pangangamuhan.”
Lindy Paclibar, president of Panay Overseas Workers Association HK, was less cautious, saying it’s up to her members if they want to join the demonstrations.

“Siguro wala namang masama kung gusto nilang sumama, basta iwas nalang sila kung mag-riot na, dapat na silang umalis para hindi sila masaktan,” she said.

She also expressed admiration for the united front shown by the Hong Kong people in fighting the extradition bill.

This stand was, however, opposed by Art Buban, founded of Bicol Migrants (HK) Association. He said: “Kung isasama ang mga members ng BMAHK ay huwag na, makakaapekto yan sa kanilang trabaho. Ipagdasal natin ang Hong Kong na maging maayos uli, na wala nang protesta.”



Giving a contrary opinion was Analyn Soriba, founder of The Adventurers. She said: . “Kung sakali humingi ng suporta sa aming migranteng manggagawa para makilahok sa malawakang protesta, hihikayatin ko rin ang aking mga kagrupo para makiisa. Pero sisiguraduhin ko muna na ang aming pakikiisa sa protesta ay hindi magdudulot ng masamang epekto sa hinaharap.”

She expressed hope that Hongkongers would continue fighting for the freedoms and security they now enjoy.

Several other people, including artist Martin Megino, also expressed solidarity with the protesters. “I am against the bill,” he said. “Pwede nga abusuhin yon pag nagkataon, especially against anti-China activists.” 
with interviews by Vir B. Lumicao
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