Philippine labour attaché who fought for rights of migrant workers in Hong Kong ‘highly unlikely’ to return to city
Jalilo Dela Torre was recalled in March with community leaders suggesting it was tied to his outspoken views on human trafficking and dodgy employment agencies
The return of the city’s popular former Philippine labour attaché Jalilo Dela Torre is “highly unlikely” according to Manila’s top envoy in Hong Kong.
But consul general Antonio A Morales has vowed to continue fighting against human trafficking, a plight Dela Torre had become known for addressing.
Manila gave no reason for recalling Dela Torre in March, a year before he completed his term, however migrant leaders in Hong Kong have suggested it was linked to his outspoken views on unscrupulous employment agencies and human traffickers.
In a city with more than 200,000 Filipino domestic workers his removal sparked outrage, and many had hoped the decision could still be overturned.
“The return of Mr. Jalilo appears highly unlikely because they just nominated another person about a month ago,” Morales told the Post.
“So far there is no labour attaché here that is his replacement. There is an official nomination, but that person has not yet arrived, and I don’t know if he or she will be arriving soon,” he said.
Morales said he could not disclose the name of Dela Torre’s replacement, because it had not been announced officially by Manila, but added that he had been told the person “had previously been assigned here in the past as assistant labour attaché”.
During the transition period assistant labour attaché Maria Nena German has lead the office and, according to Morales, her term has been extended until December.
Dela Torre returned to Manila in April to face an investigation, the details of which were not made public.
“When you do your job there will always be people that will be pleased, and others who won’t be pleased,” Morales said. “And some people who were not pleased with his job, I think, made a complaint.
“Of course, if there is a complaint, there is an investigation. I do not know the details about this matter. But I am sure he will be able to defend himself, present his side and exonerate himself, because to my knowledge, there has been no irregularity during his stay.
“There is due process and then I am sure they will give him an assignment that corresponds to his background.”
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From the short period of time they worked together, the diplomat said he got a good impression about his colleague.
“I found him to be very competent, hardworking and very committed to this job,” the consul general said. “He was very well loved by the Filipino community, and he is very keen on minimising, if not eradicating, incidents of human trafficking.”
During his time in the city, Dela Torre – whose contract came under the Philippine Department of Labour and Employment – criticised and denounced several cases of human trafficking involving Filipino workers, including those of women being duped into flying to other countries, such as Russia and Turkey, for bogus jobs.
“Even if he has been recalled, our job to combat human trafficking will continue,” Morales said.
The Department of Labour and Employment in Manila, and Dela Torre, could not be reached for comment.