BAN ON HK DOMESTICS LIFTED SOON

Manila, March 18, 2003 -- President Arroyo yesterday said that the temporary ban on the sending of Filipino helpers in Hongkong would be lifted as soon as the discriminatory case sought by the Philippine government is filed against the Hongkong government.

Arroyo, in an interview with Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), said the ban is fully supported by several countries which like the Philippines, has been sending workers regularly to Hongkong, and even the employers of the domestic helpers themselves.

Arroyo on March 5 ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to suspend the processing of all contracts for domestic workers helpers to Hongkong.

She said the move aims to express the country's opposition to the Hongkong policy to impose higher taxes to the employers who hire foreign helpers which would result in a wage cut of HK$400 on the minimum wage of Filipino domestic helpers or a loss of P5.6 billion worth of remittance annually.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the lifting of the ban would still be discussed but countries like Indonesia and Sri Lanka have already followed the Philippines' lead by imposing their own ban.

"But we know for a fact that the ban is not a permanent thing, we just wanted to make a point, a strong point to the Hongkong government and we're glad that we're being joined by some other governments in this fight for the rights of the OFWs," he added.

Bunye said Arroyo has already ordered OWWA to oversee the developments in the discriminatory case sought by the government and to shoulder all the expenses that would be incurred in the filing of the case as well as the legal fees that would be charged by the Hongkong-based lawyers that would be hired to pursue the case.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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