“He has been fighting for our rights and defending us,” says supporters
By Ted Alcuitas
The recalll of a popular labour attache in Hong Kong has prompted a demonstration by Filipino workers against the move by the Philippine government.
Jalilo Dela Torre was taken by surprise on Friday (March 23) when he received a memo recalling him to Manila and that it was effective immediately.
HK Labour Attache Jalilo Dela Torre do not know why he was abruptly recalled. (SCMP photo)
The South China Morning Post ( SCMP) reported that this is believed to be the first recall of an official from the Philippine consulate in the past 20 years.
No justification was provided in the official memo, but members of the community are suggesting that the decision might be related to Jalilo Dela Torre being an outspoken voice against human traffickers and unscrupulous employment agencies.
The online HK Pinoy TV reported that emotions run high as hundred of demonstrators descended on the grounds of Mass Mutual Tower at the Wanchai office of the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) on Saturday (March 24).
The Labour Attache is one of the most important positions in a city where there are more than 190,000 Filipino domestic workers.
Speakers protested the recall of the staunch anti-human trafficking dela Torre who has worked in Hongkong for the past two years and whose term is to expire next year.
They also condemned unscrupulous recruitment agencies, human traffickers and corrupt government officials who prey on OFWs, the report says.
More than a 100 organizations and individuals signed a petition demanding the revocation of the order.
Dela Torre has vowed to continue this fight.
Poster by organizers to denounce recall of Dela Torre. (HK Pinoy TV)
Leo Selomenio, chairwoman of Global Alliance Hong Kong, a group that promotes Philippine culture in Hong Kong, said she strongly opposed the move by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
“[Dela Torre’s] exit is not good for us,” the domestic worker said.
“He has been fighting for our rights and defending us. We demand for him to be allowed to stay until he finishes his term next year. There are many projects in line, and he should continue them. We cannot accept this,” she noted.
Selomenio said the community did not know the reason behind the unexpected decision.
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“But people believe that one of the reasons has to do with human trafficking,” she added. “He has been very outspoken. And we also know that the recruitment agencies that charge excessive placement fees are not happy. They probably complained with the government in the Philippines. Maybe there was some pressure there.”
Dela Torre has been vocal against unscrupulous employment agencies that overcharge and deceive domestic workers. He has exposed cases of Filipino helpers in Hong Kong who end up being trafficked to other destinations, such as Russia and Turkey.
The official posted on social media on Sunday: “A human trafficker in Turkey has just taken credit for my recall. Either this proves that they are involved somehow, or they are taking advantage of the situation to advance their own predatory human trafficking operations. Cheap shot.”