This was how a Philippine labor leader responded to reports suggesting that many Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong are being thrown out by employers still furious over the bloody end to the Manila hostage crisis that cost the lives of eight Chinese tourists from the former British crown colony.
“The reports are based on a few isolated and extreme cases that have been blown out of proportion because they are sensational,” said former Senator Ernesto Herrera, secretary-general of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).
Herrera also clarified that some Filipino and Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong lose their jobs every day for all sorts of reasons, whether due to the expiration of their contracts, or because they are being replaced by less expensive Chinese laborers from the mainland.
“In the end, it is all about the Hong Kong employers’ need for services. Filipino workers there have jobs as long as their services are required,” said Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.
Despite the Aug. 23 hostage-taking tragedy, Herrera stressed that people-to-people, worker-to-worker, and even government-to-government relations between Hong Kong and the Philippines “remain very civilized, diplomatic and cooperative.”
“The people of Hong Kong do not resent Filipinos. Like most of us Filipinos, they resent the way the hostage crisis was mishandled. We share their anguish and indignation,” Herrera said.
Of the estimated 225,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, 53 percent are from the Philippines, 43 percent are from Indonesia, and the rest are mostly from Thailand.
In 2009, Filipino workers based in Hong Kong wired home a total of US $339.55 million, down $66.58 million or 16.4 percent versus the $406.13 million they remitted in 2008.
From January to June this year, they sent home through banks a total of $168.15 million, up 5.2 percent compared to the $159.81 million they remitted over the same period in 2009.