MORE than 10,000 Filipino household service workers (HSWs) remain stranded in Manila, unable to leave for jobs in Hong Kong and Macau due to the existing travel ban on local air carriers.
Foreign airlines, either transiting or with regular scheduled flights to Hong Kong and Macau, however, are not covered by the ban.
Although, the government has lifted the travel restriction on local carriers, the stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) could not leave for the two destinations “because they are holding tickets issued by local carriers Philippine Airlines [PAL], Cebu Pacific and AirAsia,” explained travel consultant Emmanuel Geslani.
As of this writing the local carriers are still “threshing out with the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases] and the Bureau of Quarantine the procedural problem of flights crews who will be on those flights but would have to subject themselves to quarantine,” he added.
Majority of the 10,000 HSWs are holding tickets or reservations for PAL and Cebu Pacific that were purchased by their agencies before the imposition of the travel ban two weeks ago.
He added that a small number of HSWs have departed for Hong Kong onboard international carriers “on the insistence of their employers, or they would be replaced ,or dismissed.”
He said the employers have recourse to hire other nationalities like Vietnamese or Indonesians.
He said, meanwhile, that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III seems ill-informed to state that OFWs bound for Hong Kong and Macau “are waiting for the situation to improve in those destinations.”
“The main reason is that local carriers PAL and Cebu Pac have not mounted flights to Hong Kong due to the procedural problem with the Bureau of Quarantine,” said Geslani.
The local carriers hope that the ban would be lifted and expect the resumption of regular flights by March.
Image credits: Ivan Abreu/Bloomberg