THE hunt is on.
Immigration agents have arrested 12 Filipino musicians who were working illegally as luggage handlers at the Hong Kong International Airport.
Vice Consul Charles Andrei Macaspac confirmed reports that 12 musicians were arrested at the Chek Lap Kok International Airport on March 26 and were later charged with breach of condition of stay.
A source told Hong Kong News that immigration agents are still looking for nearly a dozen more Filipino musicians who also worked illegally at the airport.    
“There were 12 musicians arrested for breach of condition of stay. Eleven of them appeared for a judge in Shatin on March 29 and they were allowed to post bail,” Macaspac said in an interview.
He declined to release their names, adding only that the 11 Filipinos would again appear in court on April 29.  
“This is a warning to our countrymen that we should strictly follow the conditions set for our stay here in Hong Kong. If not, we would face charges,” Macaspac said.
“These conditions include the prohibition against over-staying, taking other jobs on the side, and, for domestic workers, staying out of the homes of their employers,” he added.
Penalty
The Immigration Department said the Filipinos’ arrest was part of an anti-illegal employment operation but declined to further comment on the matter.
“As the legal proceedings are still on-going, the Immigration Department will not comment on the case,” the department said. 
It, however, warned that any person without the right of abode or right to land in Hong Kong must obtain a visa before coming to Hong Kong for the purpose of study, taking up employment, training, investment and residence. 
“Overseas employees are not allowed to change employment or take up part time job without the permission of the Immigration Department. Those who have breached their condition of stay will be liable to prosecution. Upon conviction, offenders can face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years’ imprisonment,” the department said.
In a separate interview, Manuela Lo, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Musicians’ Union (HKMU), said her group is coordinating with the Philippine Consulate General on what sort of assistance could be given to the 12 Filipinos.
HKMU is an organization of professional musicians–Filipinos and other nationalities–in Hong Kong. 
“First of all, they (arrested musicians) are not members kasi, but of course, we are concerned because they’re musicians. We’ll leave it to the PCG but kung kailangan ng tulong namin, nandito lang kami,” Lo said.
She stressed the group is also concerned about educating non-resident Filipino musicians about working conditions and restrictions in Hong Kong.
“Not only for musicians, but tourists as well. The Immigration Department is very strict about this so we really need to educate (our fellow Filipinos). We’re planning to do something with the PCG,” she said. 
Visa restrictions
Macaspac said the 12 musicians were arrested because the visas that the HK Immigration Department issued allowed them to work only as entertainers.
“We would like to remind our musicians that you can transfer to another line of work only when you are already Hong Kong residents,” he said.
“But before that, we should follow the visa type given to us. For these musicians, it’s specifically for entertainment,” he added.
A source, who was familiar with the investigation but asked not to be identified, said the authorities were still looking for 11 more musicians who are in the immigration department’s list of Filipinos who worked illegally at the airport.  
“It is believed that they are still here. Meron ngang nagresign na pero nadampot pa rin kasi nasa record na nagtrabaho sila,” said the source. 
The initial investigation showed that the 12 arrested Filipinos legally arrived in Hong Kong as musicians but they ended up working at the airport after their contracts with the bars or hotels they worked in expired.
“Ang problema, nandito pa sila sa Hong Kong and alam mo naman ang cost of living dito. You also have to understand that they have to pay for rent. Syempre, gipit sila sa pera.”  
The source said the musicians, who are in their 30s to 40s, believed or were led to believe that they could work legally as baggage handlers at the airport. 
“Most of them nahuli mismo sa akto na nagtatrabaho. Ang masaklap, meron ng naka-seven years na dito (at puwede na sanang mag-resident),” the source said.

Crackdown

THE hunt is on. Immigration agents have arrested 12 Filipino musicians who were working illegally as luggage handlers at the Hong Kong International Airport. Vice Consul Charles Andrei Macaspac confirmed reports that 12 musicians were arrested at the Chek Lap Kok International Airport on March 26 and were later charged with breach of condition of stay. A source told Hong Kong News that immigration agents are still looking for nearly a dozen more Filipino musicians who also worked illegally at the airport. “There were 12 musicians arrested for breach of condition of stay. Eleven of them appeared for a judge in Shatin on March 29 and they were allowed to post bail,” Macaspac said in an interview. He declined to release their names, adding only that the 11 Filipinos would again appear in court on April 29. “This is a warning to our countrymen that we should strictly follow the

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