DOLE advises OFWs to ‘avoid protest areas, observe curfew’

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. (File photo)

by Ferdinand Patinio

MANILA — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong to observe curfew in the wake of ongoing protests there.

“The POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) advised them (OFWs) not to roam around. After office hours, go home directly. It’s for their protection,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in an interview.

The Labor chief also advised OFWs to stay home during their days-off.

“Avoid public places for now. You can never tell. Look at that, did anybody expect the protest action will be in the airport?” the DOLE chief added.

Bello said the employers of OFWs are not liable for whatever untoward incident which may happen if they choose to roam around.

“It is not the responsibility of the employer. It is the worker who is advised not to go out. Well, it’s mandatory in a sense you should be cautioned from going out. But if you don’t follow it, our labor officer cannot do anything about it. There is no penalty. But if something happens to them, it’s their fault. You cannot blame the employer and the POLO officer,” the DOLE head added.

Bello also reported that since the arrest of a Filipino working in Disneyland who was mistaken as a protester, no other OFWs have been arrested in the Chinese special administrative region.

Bello also said there is no need to implement a deployment ban due to the current situation in Hong Kong.

“So far, there are no serious incidents that warrant our consideration of a ban especially since we have to get a signal from the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” he explained.

“If it can be established by our DFA that the protest actions are going out of control and that the local police could no longer control the activities that are when we will prevent our workers from going there to prevent putting them in a compromising situation,” he added. 

The DFA has not raised any alert level in Hong Kong so far, Bello said. 

He noted that there is constant monitoring and so far, there is no sign of escalation of violence. 

On Monday, protesters stormed the Hong Kong International Airport, disrupting flights in and out of the Chinese territory. (PNA)

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