More Filipinos working as helpers in HK

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Domestic workers in Central (file photo)

FILIPINOS are still leaving the Philippines.

In the first three months of the year, the number of Filipinos working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong continued to increase, a sign the Philippine government may not be doing enough to pursue its policy of encouraging overseas Filipinos to come home and seek economic opportunities in the Philippines.

Data from the Hong Kong Immigration Department showed that as of the end of March, there were 193, 003 Filipino domestic helpers in the city, a 1.002-percent increase from 191,088 recorded at the end of January.

The increase was even faster than the 0.943-percent rise (from 354,238 to 357,578) in the total number of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong in the same period.

Indonesian domestic helpers also rose, but at a slower rate of 0.819 percent, from 154,738 to 156,006.

The number of Thai domestic helpers was practically unchanged from 2,489 to 2,492.

The fastest increase were foreign domestic helpers under “other nationalities”, rising 2.6 percent from 5,923 to 6,077 in the period.

In an interview, Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre said  more should be done to regulate recruitment agencies.

“It’s a phenomenon that we need to grapple with because ang advocacy natin is to encourage them to go home. Even President Duterte’s advocacy is also like that so we need to get hold of this problem and see how we can strictly monitor the movements of the Filipino workers,” he said.

The Philippines, he said, is apparently the default source of domestic helpers of Hong Kong.

Eman Villanueva, secretary-general of United Filipinos-Migrante-Hong Kong, said the Duterte administration should fulfill its promise of national industrialization and genuine land reform to encourage Filipinos to stay in the Philippines.

“Ang ibig sabihin lang nito talagang madami pa din ang desperately looking for employment ang mga kababayan natin. It’s abad sign kasi madami pa din ang nagpupunta dito as domestic workers kahit na mababa ang sahod, at walang limit ang oras ng trabaho,” he said.

As for the bid to allow Filipinos to work in China, Villanueva said this contradicts Duterte’s promise to create more economic opportunities in the Philippines for Filipinos.

“Ang tingin naming palayo iyan ng palayo sa aming hangand n asana pokusan ng gobyerno ang pag-develop ng maraming trabaho sa Pilipinas. At hindi lang basta trabaho, kundi stable jobs, well-paying jobs, nakakabuhay at disente para hindi magkawatak-watak ang mga pamilya,” he said.

In a previous interview, Dela Torre confirmed said he submitted recommendations to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III about the possibility of allowing Filipinos to seek employment in China.

Should there be an agreement, Dela Torre said this would mean high-skilled and low-skilled Filipino workers could soon go to China and be employed there.

Those who may find work are the engineers, tutors, nurses, and household service workers. Presently, there are Filipino engineers in China.