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‘Bayaran’ story grips HK Filcom

15 August 2019

Protesters fill the arrival area of the airport. (Photo by JP Goroy)

By The SUN

Amid the simmering tension in Hong Kong between anti-government protesters and police, stories have emerged about Filipino domestic workers supposedly being offered $3,000 to further create trouble by throwing bricks at the police.

While many have dismissed the story outright for being ridiculous, given that protesters are mostly students who cannot afford paying agitators, quite a few said it was true, and their employers were the first to warn them against taking up the offer.

Filipino community leader Rodelia Villar said three Filipina workers had each sent her a message saying the same thing, that their employers had reminded them not to accept money in exchange for joining the protests.

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She said that one “village” management had sent out warnings about this.

The story appears to have gone around in the local Chinese community that employers had thought it credible enough to warn their helpers.

One said in response to the post that her employer had told her $10,000 was being offered to each agitator, but warned her that the punishment could be 10 years in jail if she was caught joining the fray.

The employer in this case appeared to have referred to the maximum penalty imposed on those convicted of rioting, which is what the government warns protesters they could be charged with.

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Most others who commented sounded like they never heard of the supposed money offer, but acknowledged that their employers had told them to stay away from the protests.

Migrant rights activists, while acknowledging that OFWs are better off staying away if they don’t want to be caught in a tight spot, warn the volatile situation could be used by some employers to deprive their helper of a day off.

Others appeared inclined to believe the money offer, and expressed hope that OFWs enmeshed in debt would not be tempted to accept it.

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One chimed in jest: “Maganda (kung) yun na lang bangko (finance company) ang bombahin nila para mawala records. Abswelto na kaming madaming utang.”

Another kidded: “Lodi, kung 1 milyon yan sali ako sa martsa, tapos diretso sakay ng eroplano (pauwi).

But others were clearly not amused. “Kanila na lang 3k nila, susme hindi ko ipagsasapalaran ang pamilya ko para lang dyan,” one said.

Another stated the obvious, given that no one has actually stepped forward to admit being offered money. “Wala pong nagbabayad ng 3k, lol. Sabi-sabi lang yan.”

At least one said she had been asked to join a “Pro-Chinese’ rally, but it did not come with a monetary reward, just free food and “protection.” “Pero di ako sumali,no, kahit bayaran pa nila ako.” she said.

The talks also found their way into the Consulate. Acting head of post Germinia Usudan said she had heard rumors that even employers had offered to pay their Filipino help $3,000 to participate, but they declined.

That part about workers turning down the money offer she believes could be true. “ I think it’s an insult to say na ‘nagpa-participate dahil nabayaran.’ Maaring mag-participate dahil gusto talaga. Pero para bayaran upang magparticipate at isakripisyo ang kanilang safety, I think unfair yun… I find it insulting,” she said.
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