Is our Department of Labor and Employment especially the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) prepared for a worse case scenario in Hongkong?
We have 250,000 Filipino compatriots working in that island. The peace and order situation there is getting worse by the minute, with pro-democracy Hongkongers engaging police security forces with more forceful, and more lethal means than five months ago. Pro-democracy protestors are now using bows and arrows, while police are using more tear gas and rubber bullets to deter these protesters. These young Hongkongers have occupied not just one university, but two more, raising the specter of a highly protracted fight between government and these groups.
Police say these young protesters are using these universities as “factories” to manufacture more molotov bombs, more offensive weapons bringing them closer to what police termed as “terrorism.”
Chinese president Ji Xin Ping recently gave his support for a sterner application of the law in Hongkong, all the more, heightening fears of more police repression and a possible declaration of martial law.
Right now, I believe Hongkongers have already made up their minds to fight their own government. With recession already and officially hitting the island, there is simply no better thing to do for them but to prepare for more police engagements, and possibly create a situation which would force the Chinese government to accede to their demands of more transparency, and the right to choose their own leaders–something which is considered highly sensitive for the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Reports show that thousands of Hongkongers are now considering migration to Great Britain, something which is extremely complicated. There are 3.2 million Hongkong holders of a special BN(O) passports but less than a million have renewed theirs since 2015. And with relations between Great Britain and China becoming complicated due to these Hongkong protests, the possibility of Hongkongers migrating to Britain if a loss of civil rights becomes real, says former HK British head Chris Patten, seems headed towards a difficult resolution.
With all these happening, what then, will happen to 250,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) working in this island? The economy is in the doldrums. Peace and order seems to be getting worse and the political uncertainty looms larger than before.
The possibility of a mass migration is something which the Philippine government must consider, an urgent matter of discussion and a reason to make contingency measures. Are we prepared to take care of our overseas heroes the minute things get worse in Hongkong? Do we have programs for these returning workers?
The Hongkong situation is a potential crisis waiting to happen. Without any contingency measure, expect this to blow before the faces of our labor officials and of course, impact on the political stock of Mr. Duterte, who grows unpopular by the minute.