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Phl and Indo CGs to meet on boarding house inquiry

15 January 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

CGs Tejada and Suhendar will meet on how they can
jointly respond to the Ombudsman's probe (File photo)

The consuls general of the Philippines and Indonesia are due to meet on Monday to discuss what they can do together to respond to the Ombudsman’s call for inputs on how boarding houses should be regulated by the government.

Ombudsman Winnie Chiu announced Thursday, Jan 14, that she was initiating an inquiry into problems associated with the boarding houses, such as overcrowding and poor hygiene, saying the government has a duty to ensure they are safe for both the helpers and the general public.

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Philippine Consul General Raly Tejada said he invited his Indonesian counterpart, Ricky Suhendar, to a meeting so they can discuss what they can do jointly to respond to the Ombudsman’s initiative.

CG Tejada said that among the measures that he hopes the Hong Kong government would do is to open leisure and sports facilities to FDHs.


“Opportunities for capacity building activities for skills enhancement especially on housekeeping, care giving, Cantonese language, financial literacy, etc, during days off and while waiting for their visas could also be considered by the Hong Kong government,” the consul general said in response to queries from The SUN.

CG Tejada also said he hopes the Ombudsman’s inquiry would result in recommendations that will help improve the living conditions of FDWs, especially with regard to provision on proper accommodations, which is statutorily guaranteed.”

Tellez says HK and the sending countries must all share the blame for the boarding house issues

Meanwhile, Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, general manager of the Mission for Migrant Workers, blames Hong Kong’s mandatory live-in policy for the overcrowding in boarding facilities, where many workers surreptitiously take refuge because they are not provided living space by their employers.

She said the government’s failure to provide for temporary living accommodations for FDHs who are in-between jobs or are fighting labour claims, also forces the workers to stay in cramped hostels, many of which are run by employment agencies.

It is only when someone dies, as in the case of an Indonesian worker who was crushed by a falling concrete slab while sleeping on a podium outside an agency shelter in North Point nearly five years ago, that questions are raised over government’s inaction on the issue, she said.

Kaya sa panahon ng pandemya, yan pa rin ang isyu,” she added. (So now that we are in the midst of a pandemic, that’s still the issue).

Tellez also blamed sending countries like the Philippines and Indonesia for the problem, citing their insistence that their workers go through a recruitment agency if they want to work overseas, like in Hong Kong.

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Dahil din ito sa patakarang ini-impose ng gobyerno ng sending countries na dapat dadaan sa ahensya ang aplikante nila for migration. Kapabayaan ng sending governments like Philippines and Indonesia yan dahil pinapasa nila ang kanilang responsilidad na pangalagaan ang kanilang mga mamamayan sa agencies,” said Tellez

(This is also due to policies imposed by governments of the sending countries, which require their migrating workers to go through agencies. Sending governments like the Philippines and Indonesia are negligent because they pass on their responsibility of looking after their nationals to the agencies).

On top of this, she said the sending governments do not even inspect the agency-run dormitories to ensure that their workers are well looked after. 






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