‘Half of OFWs in HK brought to China’
ABOUT half of Filipinos working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong have been to China.
It was, however, unknown whether they were taken there for work or recreation by their employers.
This information was relayed by the Philippine Consulate to the Labour Department and the Hong Kong Immigration Department during the latest Technical Working Group meeting held between Philippine and Hong Kong officials on Oct. 25.
“LD requested Post (PCG) to provide a list of HSWs (household service workers) frequently travelling to Mainland China.
“(PCG) informed that based on its observation, five out of 10 HSWs have a Chinese visa stamped on their passport,” said a report submitted by the PCG to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila.
The PCG also suggested that a survey among Filipino helpers “to confirm the extent of the problem”.
“HKID said (household service workers) were only allowed to work at the employer’s address declared in the contract. It added that (household service workers) who were forced to work in the mainland could file a report to relevant Hong Kong government authorities,” the PCG added.
The practice of some employers in Hong Kong of bringing their helpers to work in China came to light following the death of Lorain Asuncion, who was reported to have fallen to her death on July 24 in Shenzhen when she was taken there by her employers.
In July, following a TWG meeting, the ImmD vowed to be more strict before allowing a foreign domestic helper to leave Hong Kong to join their employers for holidays in China.
The ImmD said the initiative would be implemented to “avoid the practice of some employers in bringing their helpers to China in the guise of joining them for vacation but actually forcing the FDHs to work.”
The ImmD, however, said that while they implement this, they could not automatically bar FDHs from leaving for China.
Sources from the PCG said ImmD officers would be asking more questions to FDHs accompanying their employers to China.
The statement came days before 28-year-old Filipino domestic helper Lorain Asuncion reportedly fell down to her death on July 24 while in Shenzhen with her employers.
A source from the Philippine Consulate said the employers of Asuncion were arrested by police and were also released on bail.
The source said the case was being investigated as suspected human trafficking.
Asuncion’s aunt, the official said, turned over to the police records of WhatsApp conversations with her niece.
In a previous TWG meeting held in April, the ImmD committed to investigate complaints against employers who bring their Filipino helpers out of Hong Kong and forcing them to work.
The statement came after officials of the PCG and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office requested the ImmD to comment on the practice of some employers bringing their FDHs overseas and making them work there.
Philippine officials also raised the concern about FDHs traveling to China, and meeting an accident there, but had no medical insurance.
Hong Kong authorities had sued two employers and an official of an employment agency for allegedly taking a Filipina to the mainland and making her work there.