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No OFW casualty from Mangkhut’s rampage

18 September 2018

A felled tree on Queensway, where many OFWs gather on Sundays

By Daisy CL Mandap

Philippine labour officials say no Filipino migrant worker suffered serious injuries from the havoc created by severe typhoon Mangkhut which lashed Hong Kong for nearly the whole day yesterday.

Labor Attache Nida Romulo said no one had called the Philippine Overseas Labour Office to ask for help, or complain about typhoon-related injuries.

Neither was there any request for assistance for family members who might have been affected by the typhoon which swept across the Philippines earlier.

“We do have a ward at the FWRC (for Filipino Workers Resource Centre, POLO’s shelter) who hails from one of the worst-hit areas in the northern Philippines, and we took it upon ourselves to ask help from our government on her behalf,” said Romulo.

A big factor that may have helped in preventing injuries, including those of migrant workers, was the hoisting of typhoon signal no 10, the strongest possible, early in the day. This, plus the repeated warning that Mangkhut was the most intense storm to ever hit Hong Kong, appeared to have spooked everyone into staying indoors.

A day-after check of the favorite haunts of migrant workers, like the parks in Central and Admiralty and the IFC walkway showed that they were, indeed, well advised not to venture outdoors, as these were among that sustained heavy damage from the storm. 
Lockhart Playground beside POLO

Uprooted trees were everywhere, hours after Mangkhut roared away from the city, including a big one that straddled a main artery of Queensway, where the Consulate offices are located. 

Throughout Sunday, officers from POLO and its attached agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, reportedly kept tabs on what was happening in the community through Facebook and messages sent to them by various people.

They also kept touch with Consulate officials led by Consul General Antonio Morales who reportedly monitored the situation throughout the day.

Welfare officer Virsie B. Tamayao said they did receive a report about Filipina domestic worker Aleya Acero being slightly injured after the rooftop kitchen in her employer’s house in Taipo collapsed, but the victim herself did not seek their help.

In a Facebook post that was shared extensively by Filipinos, Acero posted pictures of the heavily damaged kitchen, and narrated how the collapsed tin roof that ended up covering her head prevented her sustaining more severe injuries.

Aleya Acero had a narrow escape when her employer's kitchen collapsed

Acero said that when another gust of strong wind blew away the tin roof away, she scampered to run to the lower level where her employer’s family had gathered, and were calling out to her, fearing for her safety.

At least one other OFW, Meryl Baron, shared photos of the shattered windows in her room, which she said resulted in all her things getting wet and damaged. She was, however, apparently unhurt.
Shattered window in Meryl Baron's room
A report that proved to be totally false was that of a Filipina domestic worker who was purportedly rescued from being blown away by strong winds, after insisting on going out for her day off.

A closer look at the video that was used as basis for the story showed that the supposed Filipina was a teenage boy who had apparently strayed outdoors for unknown reasons. He was eventually brought to safety by an older male companion.  

Tamayao said that all the reports they received about OFWs who may have been affected were all forwarded to the Department of Labor and Employment and to OWWA, which had asked them to monitor the situation in Hong Kong.

Despite the all-clear, POLO officials say OFWs who may have been adversely affected by the typhoon may approach them for help, including those who might have been told by their employers to go out for their day off, despite the extreme weather conditions.

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