Saturday, September 04, 2010

Filipino OFWs MAY NOT BE Discriminated Against says Hong Kong Commission: Meanwhile in Philippines All Investigations are Suspect

Filipino OFWs MAY NOT BE Discriminated Against says Hong Kong Commission: Meanwhile in Philippines All Investigations are Suspect

By Kevin Stoda

In the wake of the crazy ex-policeman in Manila taking hostage a busload of tourist and killing 8 from Hong Kong, there were announcements of layoffs and firings of Filipino workers in Hong Kong and elsewhere in late August.

Last weekend, “The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission [AHRC] said that a Hong Kong ordinance protects and provides legal remedies to ethnic minorities who are racially discriminated against and the OEC is the agency charged with the task of protecting them and investigating cases of discrimination.”

In the wake of the shootings in Manila, several Filipinos were taken to the airport or threatened with discharge by the authorities. This led to many writings and discussions on retribution across both East and Southeast Asia. See an example of a Fiipino response at this link )
According to Danilo Reyes of the AHRC, “The Hong Kong-based Reyes said that for instance, domestic helpers who get fired because they are Filipinos as a result of their employers’ anger over what happened could file complaints in the EOC. Under the law, the EOC is required to investigate the matter and determine if labor laws were violated. Complaints could be filed up to two years after an incident takes place, he added.”
In short, “There is a remedy for Filipinos who want to complain, there are laws they could turn to. They will be provided legal aid, and there is a protection mechanism,” Reyes said.
Reyes continued in a letter to Filipinos and Filipino Press, “Refrain from shifting our anger towards an innocent group, particularly Filipinos who are living or traveling in Hong Kong.”
Meanwhile, the Hong Kongs Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), which investigates cases of discrimination stated that it “understood the Hong Kong people’s ‘strong feelings’ about the poor way’ that Philippine authorities handled the incident.” However, the EOC also said,“The people of Hong Kong have every reason to take pride in the racial harmony of this city, and we should guard against any action which may cause racial hatred or discord.”
At the same time, last weekend, the Filipine government “Philippine sovereignty Saturday in connection with the call by some Hong Kong lawmakers for their representatives to take part in the Philippine investigation into the hostage crisis that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead in Manila last Monday.”
I am not sure that is the best policy for the Philippines as more credibility would be brought in if a parallel investigation from some international police body were at least brought in to make recommendations for reforms. In turn the Filipino government could support or reject the reforms. I say this because the issue of sovereignity is often abused by politicians throughout Southeast Asia. Just look at how Burma (Myanmar) constantly gets away with murder and the neighboring countries just twiddle their thumbs.
A more international perspective is needed in the Philippines—a perspective that demands better international standards of investigation of crime and cover-ups.
The Filipino government’s response to the largest massacre in recent history last autumn in Mindanao shows how impunity and retribution drive politics and police forces in the Philippines to too great a degree. Over 60 people died and were buried and no one has been sent permanently to jail in that crime—which involved police and state & local officials in the murders and cover-ups.



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