Two Filipina domestic helpers stranded in China to be brought back to HK today

Image title

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Wan Chai

Two Filipina domestic helpers who were left behind in mainland China – while their employer has ostensibly already gone back to Hong Kong – will be able to return to the special administrative region on Jan.30, 2020, even as the city implements a partial shutdown of some of its borders with the mainland today.

Chief executive Carrie Lam has ordered the closure of six of Hong Kong’s 14 border checkpoints with mainland China to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov), which has so far infected 10 people in Hong Kong. The number of cases in mainland China has reached 7,711 as of Jan.29, with infections reported in 16 other countries. Casualties in the mainland have hit 170.

Assistant Labor Attache Antonio Villafuerte said the domestic helpers sought their assistance after their employer returned to Hong Kong without them.

Villafuerte added that they will try to determine if the employer just went ahead of them – but will still take care of their travel arrangements afterwards – or if they were intentionally left behind in the mainland, where the first cases of 2019-nCov were reported in mid-December last year, specifically in the city of Wuhan.

Villafuerte said they alerted the foreign recruitment agency responsible for the said domestic workers so they can be brought back to Hong Kong immediately.

“Nag-message sila, yung welfare officer natin dito tumulong, natawagan agency,” he said.

He said they are expecting the domestic workers to return today even as travel options have been drastically reduced.

POLO has also ordered all foreign recruitment agencies to locate the domestic helpers that are under their responsibility. If they have been brought to mainland China, Villafuerte said the agencies should remind their employers to bring them back to Hong Kong as soon as possible.

Villafuerte said they are aware of the logistical constraints as there will be a large number of travelers, so the agencies are instructed to first and foremost ensure the safety of the domestic helpers and to provide them advisories and updates crucial for the protection of their health.

“We understand the situation that there may be an influx of passengers and other concerns that may hinder your travel back to Hong Kong. In this regard, please ensure your safety first at all times and take necessary precautions in maintaining good personal hygiene,” the POLO said in an advisory on Jan.29.

“Unahin muna safety,” Villafuerte said. “Ang concern din lang namin, kung magbago isip Hong Kong, baka totally masarhan sila sa China, ma-isolate.”

Immigration laws bar Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong from working in places other than the location specified in their contract, but some employers bring them to mainland China, where they are sometimes made to work there.