A group of 20 Filipino domestic workers protested outside the Philippine Consulate-General in Admiralty on Hong Kong Island on Wednesday, demanding that their government lift its suspension on the processing of applications to work overseas.

Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, said the Philippine government must compensate affected Filipino domestic workers for loss of income and jobs as a result of the order.

The Philippine government issued an order to suspend the processing of applications for Overseas Employment Certificates (OECs) from November 13 to December 1 in a bid to curb illegal recruitment activities.

The group estimated that about 210 Filipino domestic workers had been unable to leave the Philippines to work in Hong Kong over the three days since the order took effect. It said some 1,050 workers would be affected by the 15-day suspension.

Balladares-Pelaez said the government was punishing innocent workers and the ban could not solve illegal recruitment, which was widespread and systemic.

Domestic workers need to pay HK$20 (US$2.56) to the Philippine government for each OEC application, as well as have a working visa issued by the Immigration Department.

Read: Manila suspends processing of maids’ work certificates