Palace appreciates Hong Kong move to suspend mandatory vax policy

Palace appreciates Hong Kong move to suspend mandatory vax policy

MANILA – Malacañang appreciates Hong Kong’s decision to suspend its policy on compulsory Covid-19 vaccination of foreign domestic workers before their contracts can be renewed.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has decided to put on hold the plan to require vaccination of domestic helpers following accusations of discrimination.

Lam, however, said the government is still pushing through with its mandatory Covid-19 testing for all domestic helpers by May 9.

“We appreciate po the gesture of Madame Lam and of course, we welcome also the mandatory testing,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing in Parañaque City on Tuesday.

Roque noted that the Philippines is also boosting its own efforts to test its citizens.

“In fact, we are also ramping up our own testing here in the Philippines because talaga naman pong pag hindi mo tinest, hindi mo alam kung nasaan ang ating kalaban (if you don’t test, you won’t know where our enemy is coming from,” he said.

On Monday, Roque echoed the remarks made by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong Raly Tejada urging Hong Kong not to single out overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in its push for mandatory Covid-19 vaccination of foreign domestic helpers.

Locsin said Hong Kong’s Covid-19 vaccination requirement “smacks of discrimination and if it is a special favor, it is unfair to other nationalities.”

Tejada said the policy must not only include foreign domestic workers but other non-resident workers who are similarly situated so that “there is no feeling of being singled out.”

“We go with the statement of Secretary Locsin of course… sana po huwag i-single out ang ating mga Filipino OFWs, bagama’t we recognize iyong sovereign prerogative na i-require ang bakuna (I hope they do not single out OFWs, although we recognize the sovereign prerogative to require vaccination),” Roque said on Monday.

While he acknowledged Hong Kong’s “sovereign prerogative” to implement compulsory Covid-19 vaccination, Roque noted that “it must be done in a manner that all people will be covered.”

“Ang (The) exercise ng police power, it must be done in a manner na lahat po ng tao eh sasakupin. Huwag naman pong magkakaroon ng singling out (that all people will be covered. There should be no singling out),” he added.

Reports showed that Lam has asked their secretary of labor the review the compulsory Covid-19 vaccination among foreign domestic workers and hold discussions with consulates from countries that provide most domestic workers.

She also defended the decision to require testing for foreign domestic helpers as “risk-based and does not involve racial discrimination”.

Hong Kong announced last week they would require foreign domestic workers, many of whom come from the Philippines and Indonesia, to undergo mandatory Covid-19 tests and vaccination if they wanted to renew their contracts.

This came after finding the first locally acquired case of a Covid-19 variant in a 39-year-old domestic worker living in the Tung Chung neighborhood. (PNA)

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