TESDA ready to train Hong Kong-based OFWs fired by employers

By Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) Updated August 27, 2010 12:00 AM


MANILA, Philippines - Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general Joel Villanueva said they are ready to give free skills training to Hong Kong-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who would be fired by their employers upset over last Monday’s hostage crisis in Rizal Park.

In an interview at the sidelines of TESDA’s 16th anniversary celebration at the agency complex in Taguig City last Wednesday, Villanueva said they have emergency funds that they can tap for free skills retraining of OFWs who may want either to work here in the country or be deployed to other foreign countries.

Villanueva issued the statement after the reported dismissal of a domestic helper by a Chinese employer in the aftermath of the Luneta siege.

The tragic hostage drama staged by a dismissed police official left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.

“In case our overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong would be forced to go back home because of this sad incident, TESDA is more than ready to provide them the assistance and the retraining that they need,” he said.

“The readiness is of course part of the agency’s thrust of working hard to attain our goal of providing the work force the appropriate and competent skills training and education so they will be outfitted for work,” Villanueva said.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, guest of honor at the anniversary celebration, admitted that the hostage-taking incident would have long-term adverse effects on the country, especially on the tourism industry.

“We don’t know how far this will go as yet,” Ochoa said.

No cancellation

But local recruiters reported yesterday that Hong Kong employers continue to hire Filipino domestic helpers and other skilled workers despite the Luneta carnage.

Alfredo Palmiery, Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines (SHARP) president, said there has been no cancellation of job orders from Hong Kong.

“Our counterparts from Hong Kong have not cancelled current job orders and contracts despite the reported anger felt by some Hong Kong residents over the hostage-taking incident last Monday,” Palmiery said.

According to Palmiery, the Luneta incident cannot just put away the very long history of reliable and faithful services rendered by the Filipino household workers to their employers in Hong Kong.

“So far, there has been no report coming from member agencies that any of their deployed household worker was terminated due to the hostage-taking incident,” he added.

Based on records of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Hong Kong was the top destination for Filipino household service workers in 2009 with 25,000 new hires.

At this time, there are about 135,000 Filipino household workers in Hong Kong receiving a monthly salary of HK$3,580 (P22,000) with one day off every week and a monthly food allowance of HK$750 (P4,500), Palmiery said.

Filipino maids, who are highly preferred by Hong Kong nationals because of their English proficiency, comprise almost half of the total number of domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

Palmiery also clarified reports that the freeze in the salary hike for Hong Kong maids was made long before the hostage incident.

Immediate resolution

As this developed, a group of OFWs yesterday called on the government to exhaust all means to have a peaceful resolution of the Luneta carnage.

Migrante International said the incident should be immediately resolved peacefully so as not to expose the thousands of OFWs in Hong Kong to possible attacks and reprisals. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Edu Punay, Jose Rodel Clapano

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