Filipinos ignore risks, still fly to Syria for jobs | Global News

Filipinos ignore risks, still fly to Syria for jobs

INTO THE CONFLICT. War-torn countries like Syria remain a source of employment for thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers despite warnings from the Philippine government. AP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Despite the ongoing civil strife in Syria, Filipinos continue to go there to look for jobs, according to a Philippine labor official in Damascus.

In a report to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Labor Attaché Angel Borja said that around 100 Filipinos arrive in Syria every month even though Manila has banned the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to the war-torn country.


“This despite the implementation by the Syrian government of its Decision No. 500, a new Syrian law that stopped the issuance of entry visas to all Filipino nationals effective April 1, 2012,” Borja said in his report.


The labor attaché added that the new arrivals were “victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking.”

Because of this, Baldoz on Saturday warned Filipinos wanting to go to Syria to work “not to continue with their plans and to stay away from recruiters assuring them of stable jobs” despite the ongoing civil war there.

Not safe for work

“There is an existing ban on OFWs bound for Syria. The POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) is not processing any worker documents for Syria, and Syria is not a safe place for OFWs to work,” Baldoz said.

Borja pointed out that Syria had remained under crisis alert level 4 which the Department of Foreign Affairs declared in December 2011.

“Under this alert level, there is a continuing mandatory repatriation of Filipino nationals from Syria,” Baldoz said.


She said the Philippine government had repatriated 1,531 Filipinos from Syria since the start of the crisis there. Of this number, only 179 were documented.

Borja also reported that there were 1,375 more OFWs, out of 3,053 repatriation applicants, who were in the process of repatriation.

“To date, the Philippine embassy’s registration program has netted a total of 6,942 Filipino nationals still remaining in Syria,” he said.

Bolstered efforts

Baldoz has instructed the POEA to clamp down on illegal recruitment not only for Syria but also for other countries, and to work closely with the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Human Trafficking headed by the Department of Justice.

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She said labor officials should also cooperate with the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Immigration and local government units in monitoring human trafficking activities and apprehending and prosecuting human traffickers.

TAGS: ofws, Overseas Filipino workers, Syria, Syrian crisis

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