A top Philippine official slammed Hong Kong’s plan to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for foreign workers.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the move “smacks of discrimination,” adding that Filipinos should not be singled out for vaccination.
The official made the statement to support an earlier call made by Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong Raly Tejada who opposed the plan to vaccinate domestic workers.
Locsin said although he believes that “all Filipinos in Hong Kong should get vaccinated” he understood the point made by Tejada.
On Sunday, Tejada told Hong Kong media that if the vaccination becomes a provision to work in the region, the application should be “non-discriminatory.”
He said other non-resident workers should also undergo mandatory vaccination to eliminate the “feeling of being singled out.”
The Philippines stopped the deployment of overseas migrant workers to Hong Kong last year at the height of the pandemic.
The government only allowed the resumption of the deployment of workers following a request from Carrie Lam, chief executive officer of the Special Administrative Region.
Last week, the Hong Kong government ordered all house helpers to undergo COVID-19 testing until May 9 after two domestic helpers were discovered infected with mutated strains.
Rights activists criticized the vaccination drive for helpers, saying the government had stigmatized the group and created a perception its members were carriers of COVID-19.
Eman Villanueva, spokesman for the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, said the move was discriminatory, adding that vaccination should not be the basis for renewing work contracts.
As of Sunday, more than 952,000 people, or 12.7 percent of Hong Kong’s population, had received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Of those, nearly 540,000 had also received their second.