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CG to meet HK’s top officials to discuss Filcom concerns

04 November 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap

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Congen Tejada thanked the Filcom for heeding the Consulate's advice to keep safe

Consul General Raly Tejada says he will bring up security concerns of the Filipino community related to the ongoing protests when he meets with Hong Kong police chief Stephen Lo sometime next week.

Other matters concerning their work and stay in Hong Kong will also be brought up during his scheduled meeting with Chief Executive Carrie Lam in the first week of December.

Congen Tejada gave these assurances in his first consultation meeting with Filipino community leaders yesterday, Nov 3, at the Consulate.

Foremost among the issues he wants to raise is the circulation on Facebook of pictures of a supposed “crime report form” that foreign domestic workers could use to snitch on their employers who keep protest gear and weapons such as petrol bombs in their homes.

The leaflet, which promised a “bounty”, asked informants to report their information to a website, or a wechat number supposedly of Hong Kong police. A quick check of the website shows it is written only in Chinese, making the information highly dubious.

Congen told Filcom leaders to be wary of the dubious-looking 'complaint form'

Congen Tejada said he was also very concerned about the report, given the vulnerability of Filipino migrant workers. However, he was quick to advise Filcom leaders not to fall too quickly for unverified information such as this one.

“Galing lang sa FB, so ingat lang,” he said.

Nevertheless, he promised to bring the concern “to the highest level”, given that it encourages Filipino workers to violate the privacy of their employers, and puts their jobs at risk.

This is not the first time FDWs have been targeted by anti-protest groups. The first false information to circulate on Facebook was about migrant workers supposedly being paid $3,000 each to join the protests.

Congen Tejada said he was confident Filipino workers would not fall easily for such divisive tactics as they are intelligent and adhere to the Consulate’s oft-repeated advisory to keep themselves safe.

The only untoward incident he noted was when an OFW lost consciousness after inhaling smoke from the tear gas hurled at protesters who sought refuge in Southorn Playground in Wanchai last month. It turned out that the Filipina was allergic to the gas, but recovered quickly enough to be sent home from the hospital the next day.

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About 50 Filcom leaders were invited to the forum
Another issue Congen Tejada is anxious to put to rest is the supposed plan of the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment to embark on a mass repatriation of OFWs from Hong Kong because of protest-related violence.

“Hindi po, hindi mangyayari yan. Dole will have to get an advice from the Consulate,” said Tejada. “May danger, of course, but I don’t think it merits the repatriation or the mass exodus of our people here.”

He also quelled reports that there has been a slowdown in the processing of work contracts to Hong Kong, or that it has stopped altogether.

He cited statistics showing that between July and September this year, when the protests were already well underway, the number of OFWs has actually risen by about 2,000, for a total figure of 238,492.

Despite this, he said the Consulate remains vigilant, with 18 of its more than 70 staff contingent being appointed as coordinators for the different districts in Hong Kong to ensure the safety of Filipino nationals.

During a recent talk with Chief Secretary Mathew Cheung, Tejada said he was given an assurance that the Chief Executive’s recent policy speech was received well by the people in Hong Kong, particularly the promise of affordable housing for everyone.

Cheung reportedly said this was the reason support for the protests has dwindled, although there remains a group of radicals who continue to wreak havoc across the city.
Told by some community media people that the situation “on the ground” remains very dangerous, 

Tejada gave the same advice that he gives to all other Filipinos: “Keep safe.”

Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chair of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, said protest-related issues are just some of the concerns many Filcom leaders want the Consulate to address.

“Aside from the issues na ni raise ninyo tungkol dito sa pagtatrabaho sa Hong Kong, marami pa tayong issues sa Philippine government. So meron kaming mga katanungan na nais naming masagot ng ibat ibang departamento sa Pilipinas, gaya ng OWWA, SSS, Philhealth at compulsory insurance.”

Told that the new exactions which should weigh heavily on all OFWs were imposed without prior consultation or announcement, Tejada promised to get updates on them and disseminate the information to the community as soon as possible.

He also said he will resume regular consultations with the community, and plans to schedule it every quarter, or once every three months. His announcement was quickly welcomed by leaders who said it was something they had urged previous heads of post to do.

Image may contain: Fernandico Q. Gonong Jr. and Elizabeth Dy
Consul Ausan told the leaders they could call him 'Tito Leo'
Those who joined Tejada at the meeting included newly arrived Consul Leo Tito Ausan, Jr., said to be a Middle East veteran whose last foreign posting was at the Philippine consulate in Vancouver, Canada.

Also at the panel were Deputy Congen Germinia Usudan, Consul Paul Saret, Consul Sheila Arnesto, Consul Bob Quintin, Social Welfare Attache Beth Dy, Asst Labor Attache Angelica Sunga and OWWA Welfare Attache Marivic Clarin. 

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