FAMILIES OF FILIPINOS working in Hong Kong have expressed concern over the safety of the workers following massive street protests and mass demonstration over a proposed extradition law.
Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers stage the protests and clashed with policemen who fired pepper spray and tear gas and rubber bullets on the demonstrators. “We are worried over our girl working in Hong Kong because of the dangerous situation there now. We are concerned over her safety, over her job if the situation worsens,” said 63-year old Ernesto Maturan, whose daughter works as a domestic helper in the former British colony the past 4 years.
One mother in South Cotabato said she was also worried over her daughter. “I am scared for her. I pray for her safety,” she told the Mindanao Examiner.
The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong also told Filipinos there to stay away from demonstration areas, which are generally concentrated outside government central offices, particularly the Legislative Complex, in Admiralty and in Tamar Park.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Fernandez said they also advised Filipinos to reschedule their consular transactions at the Consulate General, which is located near the demonstration areas.
He said the Consulate General headed by Consul General Antonio Morales continues to monitor the situation and will provide public advisories from time to time as necessary and is ready to provide assistance if needed.
A report by the Iran Press said the proposed law has been met with widespread opposition and prompted more than one million of the city’s more than 7 million populations to take to the streets in protest since last week. Up to 5,000 policemen in riot gear have been deployed to guard the legislative building after demonstrators tried to camp near there.
The clashes resulted in a violent confrontation with protesters who were seen wearing helmets, goggles and heavy-duty workman’s gloves, and pulling bricks from the sidewalks. Hundreds of businesses, parents and teachers called for a boycott of works and school to show their opposition to the bill.
Although Hong Kong is part of China, it has separate laws unlike mainland China. Many people fear that the proposed extradition law means they could be taken from Hong Kong by Chinese authorities for political or inadvertent business offenses.
Despite the mass demonstrations, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has refused to withdraw the extradition bill, saying it is needed to plug loopholes to prevent the city from becoming a haven for mainland fugitives.
She said safeguards had been added to the bill to protect human rights and had received no instruction from Beijing to push it forward. “Hong Kong people are furious. Our chief executive just ignored the people’s voice, despite the peaceful rally of a million Hong Kong people,” said Senior Democratic Party lawmaker James To.
In 2014, pro-democracy protesters known as the Umbrella Movement also took to the streets of central Hong Kong after China reneged on an agreement for a free elections. (Iran Press, Mindanao Examiner)
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