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Foreign affairs secretary twits HK for not recognizing Phl’s vaccination records

11 August 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap


Locsin says the lack of centralized issuance of vaxx record in PHL is the problem

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. has lamented that Hong Kong authorities are not accepting vaccination cards issued by local government units in the Philippines “because they are not connected to a single source.”

“Poor OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) going to their jobs in Hong Kong even if jabbed,” Locsin posted on Twitter earlier today, Aug 11.

What the country's top diplomat means is that Hong Kong is looking for a centralized data base for all the vaccination records issued throughout the Philippines.

Right now, each LGU is allowed to issue vaccination cards to its residents, and these are not connected to a single agency or department run by the government. Thus, there have been reports of tampering, or fake vaccination records being produced for local use.

The Bureau of Quarantine has tried to remedy this recently by issuing yellow-colored international vaccination cards, with “World Health Organization” stamped on the cover.

However, the roll-out has been slow, with many people saying the appointment slots for securing the so-called “yellow card” have all been booked for this month.

And even if they do get the much-coveted card, Filipinos who got vaccinated in the Philippines still face uncertainty because Hong Kong has yet to give the green light for it.

According to Consul General Raly Tejada, talks are still ongoing between the Consulate and Hong Kong authorities on this, although local authorities seem receptive to accepting the BOQ-issued yellow card.

"We are working hard to come out with a unified vaccination card soon. Our dialogue with HK counterparts is both open and constructive so I am very hopeful that all our nationals can travel back to HK whether they were vaccinated here or in the Philippines," said ConGen Tejada.

Chan says HK's non-recognition of Phl vaccine certificates is blatant discrimination

Despite the assurance, some employment agency operators see Hong Kong’s rejection of vaccination cards issued in the Philippines as puzzling and downright discriminatory.

Thomas Chan, head of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, said his group is disappointed with the Hong Kong government’s decision.

“We really don’t understand the mentality behind this. According to my knowledge, they (HK authorities) accept vaccination certificates from the USA even where there is no centralized data bank of vaccinated persons there. It is an obvious and blatant discrimination,” Chan said.

He also pointed out that people from the USA or any medium-risk countries are not only allowed to come in using whatever vaccination card they can present, they can also reduce their quarantine period from 14 to 7 days if they test positive for antibodies.

In contrast, people coming from high-risk countries like the Philippines will have to quarantine for 21 days even if they are fully vaccinated, and possess “valid” vaccination records.

In one of his press briefings, Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong also said foreign domestic helpers who are able to hurdle the vaccination requirement, will not only spend 21 days in isolation, they will also be put together in one or two designated quarantine hotels.

Hong Kong has consistently announced that vaccinated people coming from high-risk countries will be able to enter only if they hold a valid vaccination record.

By that, it means the vaccination certificate was issued by HK, China, Macau and countries with WHO-certified authorities like Britain and Ireland, which are both under the high-risk category.

The others in that classification do not qualify as having valid vaccination records. Apart from the Philippines, there’s Indonesia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa and Brazil.



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