By Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
2:07 am | Sunday, October 13th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reacted sharply on Saturday to a proposal by a political party in Hong Kong to ban Filipino domestic workers from the Chinese territory until the Philippines issues an apology for the death of eight HK tourists during a bus hijack in Manila more than three years ago.
The status of thousands of innocent Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong should not be leveraged with the city’s appeal for a categorical apology from the Philippines for the tragic result of the bus hijack incident at Rizal Park on Aug. 23, 2010, the DFA said in a statement.
“Let us de-link the issue from the Filipino workers in Hong Kong whose dedication to their work and high skill set have contributed to the society and economy of Hong Kong,” said Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, the DFA spokesperson.
Hernandez cited the longstanding presence of Filipinos in the former British colony, adding that most Hong Kong residents shared a different view from lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip, who led the ban call.
Eman Villanueva, spokesperson for the Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body, was quoted in the South China Morning Post as saying that Chan was “barking up the wrong tree.”
“Chan is just exploiting the political situation to gain popularity. What does the visa issue have to do with the Manila hostage incident? This is racist and he should be ashamed,” Villanueva was also quoted as saying.
Roughly 160,000 Filipino domestic workers are employed in Hong Kong.
The DFA said the Philippines continued to work with the Hong Kong government to resolve the emotionally charged issue.
President Aquino himself had to face Hong Kong’s unmet demand for an apology again during the recent Asia Pacific Economic (Apec) forum in Bali, Indonesia, where Hong Kong journalists shouted questions about the issue at him. The group was kicked out of the event for disrespecting the Philippine leader land violating decorum rules.
The President did not issue an apology during a meeting with Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chunying on the Apec sidelines but again extended the country’s condolences and regret for the incident.
The DFA earlier explained that the incident “has been fully settled” and that “financial tokens of solidarity” had been sent to the victims’ families.
Chan’s political party, ironically named People Power, is described as a “radical pan-democratic group.”
In making his ban call, Chan said President Aquino “has been humiliating Hongkongers,” adding that the city’s government “has the responsibility to take a tougher stance to penalize the Philippines for its response to the tragedy,” said a report by the South China Morning Post.
Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the government will prepare alternative markets for Filipino workers in Hong Kong should the proposal to ban Filipino domestic workers push through. With a report from Tina G. Santos
Tags: Chinese territory , Department of Foreign Affairs , DFA , Filipino domestic workers , HK tourists , Hong Kong , Overseas Filipino workers , Rizal Park
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