Ban on OFW deployment to Nigeria stays – Noli

Published by rudy Date posted on April 3, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President and presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Noli De Castro yesterday said the government would maintain the ban on the deployment of Overseas Filipino Workers(OFWs) to Nigeria to protect workers from possible harm.

De Castro, however, clarified that Nigeria land-based OFWs who have been working for more than 10 years in Lagos are not included in the deployment ban and may be given a special travel permit.

In a recent Malacanang meeting, President Arroyo, De Castro, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Esper Derpo, president of the Filipino Community in Nigeria decided to keep the ban on the deployment due to the existence of “real dangers and threats” to the safety of OFWs in Nigeria.

De Castro noted that the group of Filipino workers who may be issued with special travel permit are employed in safer areas, unlike in more dangerous spots like Niger Delta which has a high incidence of hijacking. “This is good news to those OFW professionals in Nigeria who have been wishing to take a vacation back home. Their problem before was that once they go home, they cannot go back to Nigeria because of the ban. Now this has been resolved,” De Castro said.

The DFA recommended to maintain the ban in Nigeria because of the latest hijacking incident involving three hostaged Filipino seamen.

The DFA also said that while the hijacking problem in Nigeria is concentrated in Niger Delta, it would be extremely difficult to control the movement of OFWs ostensibly destined to other parts of Nigeria from ending up in the Niger Delta.

Aside from Nigeria, the deployment ban in Iraq and Afghanistan stays.

De Castro also pointed out that the lifting of deployment ban to Lebanon and Jordan is subject to the execution of a labor cooperation agreement between the Philippines and these countries to ensure the protection of the rights of OFWs, such as receiving minimum wage, having decent working and living conditions and reasonable rest periods.

Migrante International, an alliance of Filipino migrant workers has denounced the move to lift the deployment of OFWs in Lebanon and Jordan and threatened to hold President Arroyo responsible for any untoward incident that might happen to OFWs in these countries.

“With the lifting of the deployment ban to Lebanon and Jordan, Arroyo could be opening a Pandora’s box of wanton human rights violations among OFWs who will now be allowed to work there,” Migrante International chairman Garry Martinez said.

He explained that Lebanon and Jordan would be hotbeds of conflict in the absence of labor agreements that would ensure the rights and welfare of OFWs in these two countries.

“We still maintain that these countries are hotbeds of conflict, human rights violations, trafficking, to name only a few. On top of all that, these countries teem with incompetent Philippine embassy and labor officials who have been proven to have miserably failed to rescue countless OFWs in distress,” Martinez said.

Migrante likewise reported that despite the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency’s (POEA) guidelines on the implementation of the Reform Package Affecting Household Service Workers (HSWs) which provides a “no placement fee policy” for household workers abroad, a recruitment agency in the Philippines and its counterpart in Israel are charging Filipino domestic helpers with big amount of placement fees. – Pia Lee- Brago, Jose Rodel Clapano, Philippine Star

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