Thursday, January 13, 2011

DOLE orders strict implementation of OFW deployment ban

A day after 59 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) returned from Lebanon, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Thursday ordered the strict implementation of the OFW deployment ban on Lebanon and four other "high-risk" countries.

Baldoz strongly reiterated that restrictions against the processing and deployment of OFWs in the five countries remain in force to ensure their welfare and protection.

"As far as the DOLE is concerned, there remain in effect restrictions on the processing and deployment of OFWs in view of the peace and order situation in those areas. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is tasked to implement these restrictions imposed on both legitimate recruitment agencies and OFWs," Baldoz said in an article posted on the DOLE website.

Baldoz cited POEA Advisory No. 27 issued 2010, which specifies a total ban on deployment of OFWs in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq, and Lebanon.

The government also suspended the deployment of newly-hired household service workers (HSWs) to Jordan.

Baldoz also said President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is aware of the OFWs' sacrifices for their families.

He had relayed to OFWs the nation's gratitude by instructing the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to set aside P1 billion for the government's reintegration program.

At least 59 distressed overseas Filipino workers returned home from Lebanon Wednesday. The Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday the 59 arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Wednesday afternoon.

"These OFWs are those who stayed at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC), most of whom had experiences of maltreatment from their previous employers," the DFA said in its website.

Officials led by DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Executive Director Ricardo Endaya welcomed the OFWs.

The other officials who welcomed the OFWs were representatives from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) headed by Officer-in-Charge Cynthia Lamban and Office of the Vice President representative Atty. Ira Puzon.

"The DFA, through the Philippine Embassy in Beirut, purchased the airline tickets of the OFWs. It also covered the cost of hiring a bus to transport the Filipinos to the Rafic Hariri International Airport," the DFA said.

The Philippine Consulate General in Dubai also coordinated and assisted the OFWs in their connecting flight from Dubai to Manila.

During their stay at the FWRC, the six OFWs who earlier faced criminal charges were provided legal counsel and translation services during the investigation and in their court hearings.

The Embassy provided shelter and medical services to the OFWs, as well as food and toiletries. – with Jerrie Abella, VVP, GMANews.TV

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