Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong have not been affected by the Philippines’ temporary travel ban as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Monday.
Bello said the thousands of overseas Filipino workers in the Chinese special administrative region did not face the prospect of unemployment.
“There is no basis yet to say that the employment of these returning OFWs have been affected because we got verified information from our labor attaché in Hong Kong that the employers of our overseas workers there [had been] granted extension of vacation of our OFWs,” he told reporters in Malacañang.
Still, Bello said the government has already spent P35 million to aid OFWs caught up in the ban.
“I advocated during our last Cabinet meeting that the travel [ban] should be lifted but in deference to [Health] Secretary Pingkoy [Francisco Duque III] who is more concerned about the health of our overseas workers, the decision was to proceed with the travel ban,” he said.
An entry ban imposed by Manila starting last week covers foreigners who had traveled to mainland China and its special administrative regions Macau and Hong Kong within the past 14 days.
The government later expanded its coverage to travelers from self-ruled Taiwan in an apparent deference to the One-China Policy.
China views Taiwan as a renegade province. (Virgil Lopez)