Palace hopes Hong Kong won't single out OFWs in requiring vaccination

Malacañang backed Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr's call for Hong Kong to apply a possible COVID-19 vaccination requirement, not just to domestic workers, but to all similarly-situated foreigners.

"We hope that our Filipino OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) will not be singled out, though we recognize the sovereign prerogative to require a vaccine," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday, May 3.

This comes a day after Locsin tweeted that the plan, now being studied by the Hong Kong government, "smacks of discrimination" since vaccination would only be required of domestic helpers.

A big chunk of the 370,000 domestic workers in Hong Kong are Filipinos. After the Philippines, Indonesia is Hong Kong's next major source of domestic helpers.

Roque said equal protection must be observed in policies with international ramifications.

"The equal protection clause is not just a provision in the Philippine Bill of Rights. It is accepted already in the international covenant on civil and political rights and that applies to Hong Kong," said President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesperson.

Last Friday, April 30, the Hong Kong government announced its plan to require domestic workers to get vaccinated before their contracts are renewed. Vaccination would also be imposed on persons applying for a visa to work in Hong Kong as domestic helpers.

Duterte has long packaged himself as a champion of OFW rights, making their welfare a priority of his administration. A great number of OFWs voted for Duterte in 2016 and he has included events with Hong Kong-based OFWs in his trips to the special administrative region. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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