Employers’ demand for refund hampers OFW repatriation from Syria
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said that the increasing cost of the refund for deployment made it more difficult for Philippine embassy officials to conduct repatriations of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from Syria.
“Our embassy there has been intensifying its efforts in repatriating our OFWs. The only problem now is the employers are asking more money for the refund of the deployment cost,” Hernandez said in an interview with reporters.
“Before it was only about $4000 per OFW, now it’s even reaching up to $10,000,” he added.
Hernandez said that the high cost had been making the negotiations very tedious.
“That’s why we have to really negotiate and we have to tell them [what we can do] and that’s why it is taking us a bit of time to negotiate for the repatriation of every OFW,” Hernandez said.
“Maybe it’s harder to bring in people so employers [would say that] ‘OK we will pay even up to $10,000 just to get a Filipino as our household helper,’” he said.
But if the employers decide to let go of the OFW “then you,” Hernandez said, “have to [refund] that amount.”
Hernandez also said that it was alarming how there were new OFWs being deployed to Syria while repatriations from the country were on-going, a proof of the violations on the ban of OFWs.
He reminded OFWs not to be fooled by illegal recruitment agencies.
“We are asking our people not to be duped, not to be fooled by illegal recruitment agencies who make money out of them and who are willing to risk their lives just to get some money out of their deployment,” he said.
On Sunday, an additional 39 overseas Filipino workers from Syria arrived Sunday night in Manila, bringing to 1,816 the number of OFWs repatriated by the government from the strife-torn Middle East country.
Hernandez said that more than 1000 OFWs had expressed their willingness to be repatriated through the DFA’s mandatory evacuation program.
Syria has been under crisis alert level 4 since December.
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