New ConGen appeals to Filipino business community: ‘Police your own ranks’
AMBASSADOR Antonio Morales has formally and officially assumed his post as the Philippine Consul-General in Hong Kong on Jan. 7.
And the first order of the day for Morales was to ensure the welfare and well-being of the over 200,000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, majority of whom were household service workers, including issuing an appeal to the Filipino business community in the city to take care of their kababayans.
“Kakausapin natin ang mga Filipino business associations at sasabihin natin na magpo-police sila ng ranks nila,” he said.
Morales’ comment came in the wake of the flight booking mess involving Peya Travel, whose co-owner Rhea Donna Boyce is a Filipina, that left hundreds of Filipino domestic helpers stranded in Hong Kong instead of flying home to the Philippines to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays with their families.
“Nakikinabang ang ating mga companies sa ating mga kababayan. Tama din na ang concern nila negosyo pero hindi lang dapat negosyo dapat may serbisyo din sila,” he said.
As of Jan. 9, consulate officials said over 800 domestic workers filed their complaint against Peya, and the number of complainants was expected to rise further as some victims had yet to return to Hong Kong from their holidays in the Philippines.
Morales slammed the people behind the ticketing mess, noting the stress it caused to Filipino domestic helpers and their families who were expecting a reunion during the holidays.
“Siyempre ang mga kababayan natin hindi naman taon-taon umuuwi tuwing Pasko. Pinagplanuhan nila iyan at pinaghandaan tapos biglang nangyari ang ganyan, siyempre mas lalong malaking perwisyo ang nangyari sa kanila at sa kanilang mga mahal sa buhay na pinagplanuhan ang Pasko,” he said.
Before the Peya ticketing fiasco came to light, a year earlier, another Filipino-owned business, Emry’s Employment Agency, was sued by some 200 Filipino domestic helpers who paid anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000 each for jobs in Canada, UK, and Australia, which turned out to be non-existent.
Emry’s owner Ester Ylagan had left Hong Kong in 2016 and did not appear in various court proceedings against her. She has recently returned to Hong Kong and claimed that she was willing to face all these cases.
Morales added that the consulate would not tolerate any fraudulent activities, and urged Filipinos in Hong Kong to be prudent and wise in choosing who to do business with.
“At the same time dapat may public information campaign tayo na huwag basta magtitiwala at mag-check muna. I will also call on the Hong Kong Police commissioner para masigurado na nakikiisa sila sa atin kasi hindi natin basta-basta papayagan ang mga ganyang pagsasamantala at panglolokong ganyan sa mga kababayan natin,” he said.
Morales said he was seeking a meeting with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other Hong Kong officials before the end of the month.
A meeting with Filipino community leaders was also being scheduled so he could consult with them and find out their concerns.
“I will immediately meet with Hong Kong officials, and hopefully also with Chief Executive Carrie Lam before the end of January,” he said.
Part of the plans, Morales said, was to look for a building which could be used for multiple activities during Sundays so Filipino helpers have an option whether to stay in Central or go to this venue to join financial literacy sessions or even hold film screenings.
“Kung kaya ng budget at kung gustong may mag-sponsor, bakit hindi? Pero siyempre nasa PIlipino iyon kung gusto lang noya talagang sa Central lang mag-tambay hindi natin sila pipigilan pero baka iyong iba ayaw naman doon pero wala lang mapuntahan,” he said.
Meanwhile, Morales said they would add three more personnel at the PCG, who would be assigned to the Passports Processing section and the Assistance to Nationals section.