MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the proposal of the DFA and DOLE to assist the approximately 1,000 Filipino workers defrauded by a travel agency in Hong Kong.
The South China Morning Post earlier reported that hundreds of Filipino workers in Hong Kong discovered that the air tickets they paid for do not exist.
The DFA and the DOLE, through the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, will split the cost of roundtrip travel of affected Filipinos.
“Our kababayans in Hong Kong and other parts of the world have a very special place in President Duterte’s heart and it is just right that we make their Christmas wishes come true by doing what we can to bring them home,” DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.
The affected workers will be asked to issue an undertaking for the refund of tickets bought from the travel agency, according to DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola.
The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong is set to file criminal charges against PEYA Travel, the Filipino-owned travel agency that defrauded the workers, to compensate the damages.
In a South China Morning Post report, deputy consul general Roderico Atienza said that PEYA Travel has committed to refunding their customers.
The travel agency had been summoned to explain their side with Philippine consular officials in Hong Kong.
“They have given us their word. We asked them to sign an undertaking, committing themselves to the actions they were taking they were going to do,” Atienza told the South China Morning Post.
Issues with the Hong Kong-based travel agency was attributed to their booking system, which occurred in May, according to the report.
Two staff members of PEYA Travel quit on the day that the initial wave of stranded customers at the airport came to the agency. This left only two personnel to handle the situation, as retold by the consulate.
Atienza said that there was a systematic failure of management on the part of the travel agency.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, meanwhile, has placed the Philippine Air Force in case their aircraft would be needed to fly Filipino workers from Hong Kong.
Philippine Airlines and Cathay Pacific have also offered discounted airfare and vowed to dispatch bigger aircraft to ensure that the stranded workers will be home before Christmas. Cebu Pacific has offered 50 complimentary return tickets for the affected Filipinos.