OFWs may fly to Lebanon, Jordan soon—DFA
Foreign Affairs officials are ready to lift overseas deployment bans to Lebanon and Jordan but continue to warn Filipinos against going to protest-wracked Syria where over 60 workers are scheduled for repatriation later this week.
Carlos Cao Jr., Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief, said the total deployment ban to Lebanon and the ban on household service workers (HSWs) to Jordan would be lifted once Manila signs bilateral agreements with these countries to protect the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“There’s a total ban for Lebanon but we are going to sign a bilateral agreement with them this January and after that the ban will be lifted,” Cao said in an interview.
“It is a labor cooperation agreement and the final draft is already finished. The signing will be done in Lebanon,” he added.
Manila imposed a deployment ban to Lebanon in 2006 after fighting erupted between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters.
“But that conflict was years ago. With this agreement, we will have guarantees that there would be improved protection for our workers,” Cao said.
He said that the government was also working on a similar bilateral agreement with Jordan, where labor deployment was banned in 2008.
There have been reports that some Filipino maids in Lebanon and Jordan were treated like slaves, denied basic workers’ rights to days off, and were often locked up like prisoners in their places of work.
On Monday, Cao said that he also expected the deployment ban to Nigeria to be lifted by January 1 as recommended by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The DFA said there were “no more kidnappings” (of foreign workers ) in Nigeria and it has become a “vibrant democracy.”
“I think that will hold,” Cao said.
The government imposed a deployment ban after the kidnapping of several Filipino seafarers in Nigeria between 2006 and 2009.
The POEA chief said there were 5,000 jobs available for Filipinos who want to work in the oil, gas and construction industries there. There are currently more than 7,200 Fillipinos working in Nigeria.
In Syria, however, the DFA raised the crisis alert level last week in view of the escalating violence in that country. It is set to repatriate over 60 OFWs from Damascus.
DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer the repatriation of Filipinos in Syria was “a continuing effort of the government since April.”
“Before the end of the year, more than 60 Filipinos in Syria were scheduled to be repatriated to the Philippines. The Philippine Embassy in Damascus is also arranging the repatriation of another 143 OFWs from that country,” said Hernandez.
So far, the DFA “has been able to repatriate close to 400 OFWs” from the troubled Middle East nation, he said.
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