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Filcom leader blasts at legislator for urging weekend ban on FDW gatherings

27 December 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap 

The legislator was particularly irked by the large Christmas-day crowd in Tamar

An outspoken leader of the Filipino migrant community has lashed out at a proposal by a legislative councilor to stop foreign domestic workers from gathering on weekends, and punish those who violate such a prohibition.

Dolores Balladares-Pelaez called the proposal “outrageous” and blatantly discriminatory.

“Again, migrants are not virus carriers at hindi totoing hindi kami nag so social distancing. Matao ang lugar, yes, but aware ang mga migrants sa social distancing,” she said.

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(Again, migrants are not virus carriers and it’s not true that we don’t practice social distancing. The place is packed, yes, but migrants are aware about social distancing).

The ban was proposed by legislator Elizabeth Quat from the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who complained that the gathering of FDWs has gotten out of hand, and has increased the risk that they would bring the virus back to their employers’ homes.

Quat also criticized the government for allegedly failing to put a stop to the practice, and said she had contacted the Food and Health, Labour and Welfare bureaus to request that they immediately act on her proposal to impose a weekend gathering ban on FDWs.

But large crowds also gathered in malls and other public places
At the same time, she said the government should contact the Philippine and Indonesian consulates to ask that they strengthen their information campaign to get their nationals to take health precautions and avoid large gatherings.  

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She complained that not only do FDWs gather in large numbers on weekends, they also bring suitcases so they could pack boxes in public with goods that they send back home.

The DAB legislator also found it objectionable that the helpers occupy flyovers and streets, and have taken to setting up tents in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and Tamar Park in Admiralty.

Her objections appear to stem from a recent Covid-19 outbreak in a boarding house in Tai Po, where FDWs stayed in-between jobs, or during their rest days. A total of 12 cases were reported, including four family members of an employer.

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But at the same time, a cluster involving more than 700 people, all locals, occurred among those who visited dance clubs, and their close contacts. The infections linked to this cluster continue to this day.

Balladares-Pelaez finds the blame shift on migrants unfair.

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Bakit ba laging pinag-iinitan ang migrants?,” she rued. “Linggo-linggo may mga pulis na umiikot sa Chater Road, overkill na nga,” she said. (Why are migrants always being targeted? Every Sunday there are police officers going around Chater Road, it’s almost an overkill).

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Police officers are a visible presence in Central on Sundays

Wala na ngang pahinga sa trabaho ang mga migrante, i-ban pa ang day off nila. Anti-worker yang mga legislative councilor na yan.” (Migrants are already overworked, why deprive them of their only day off in the week. That legislative councilor is anti-worker).
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