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Stay safe, new CG tells Pinoys in HK

06 September 2019

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing
CG Tejada sees a decline in trade & tourism
for HK because of the protests

By Vir B. Lumicao

Stay safe, calm and vigilant. This is the advice of Consul General Raly Tejada to the Filipino community in Hong Kong amid the turmoil sparked by the extradition bill.

Congen Tejada gave the advice in an interview with The SUN on Sept 4, just hours before Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced she was withdrawing the controversial bill.

The newly installed head of the Philippine mission said what’s happening in the city is an internal matter for Hong Kong. He was responding to a query on whether the Philippine government has a special message to Filipinos amid the crisis.
“They’re undergoing some transformation, they’re examining what’s going on in their territory, there’s some question being asked,” Congen Tejada said.

“But my advice to all Filipinos here is to stay safe, stay calm, be vigilant, and rest assured that the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong will be here to continue to look after their rights and welfare.”

The consul general arrived on the Hong Kong second week of August and formally took up the post on Aug 14 at the instruction of Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., who, accordingly, saw the need to install a head of post urgently as the protests snowballed.
“We need to protect (the workers’) rights and welfare here, fight for their rights and welfare, and ensure that all benefits will be granted to them,” he said.

He said the Consulate issues advisories regularly, almost daily, on its website and on its Facebook page advising Filipinos to stay away from demonstration areas and avoid wearing black or white upper garments so as not to be mistaken for a participant.

Congen Tejada said the weekend protests in Hong Kong have also hurt the city’s tourism and that its trade with the Philippines may have been hit likewise, based on news reports that a decrease in GDP is expected.
“Well, tourism has taken a big hit definitely. We have an advice that tourists or people who are going to have non-essential travel to Hong Kong to delay their trip in the meantime because of the unstable situation,” he said.

The consul general said he believes Hong Kong people continue to visit the Philippines but that “I suppose the (they) now are quite preoccupied with what’s happening here.”

He said with access to the airport sometimes being disrupted by protest actions, people find that going in and out of Hong Kong is a bit inconvenient. “But I am confident travels by Hong Kong people to the Philippines are still continuing as scheduled,” he said.

“For sure, some of our trade relationship with Hong Kong might be affected but the figures are not in yet.  I’m not quite sure.”

In his return to the city that was his first overseas posting as a diplomat, Congen Tejada said he was impressed by Hong Kong’s transformation from the time he arrived here to serve as a vice-consul in the early 2000s.

“Well, it has gone by leaps and bounds, it has new buildings, it is still the dynamic Hong Kong that I know, very fast, very efficient. They have this can-do spirit which I truly admire,” he said.

On his first day Sunday at work, Congen Tejada began what he called a tradition of inviting Filipinos waiting outside the public hall for consular services to open to attend the flag-raising ceremony.

“You know their reaction was good, they’re very happy. They were able to sing the national anthem and do the ‘Panatang Makabayan,’ so nabuhay yung sense of patriotism and they were very proud of it. It was a simple gesture yet it made a big difference sa kanila,” he said.

“Not only did it start off the day for them, but they’re very happy with their engagement and this is the kind of engagement I want to continue,” he said.

Congen Tejada said he had a chat with some of the workers and found out they were happy to work in Hong Kong.

“It seems that their rights are protected here, the rule of law is very strong. In fact, all their cases have been always attended to, not only by the Consulate, but the local government is very active in addressing their concerns,” he said.

He noted that Hong Kong is a very safe place for the workers where contracts are being followed. “If their contracts are not followed, the Consulate runs after those who are erring and, of course, the Hong Kong government always makes sure that the contracts are being followed,” he said.


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