DOLE to stop OFW deployment to Afghanistan

from July 10, 2014 04:00 pm to July 10, 2014 04:00 pm

 (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 10, 2014 - 12:00am


MANILA, Philippines - Filipino workers will no longer be sent to Afghanistan.


Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is   drafting the necessary resolution to reimpose the deployment ban to that country due to escalating tension.


“The POEA’s governing board will draft the resolution to clarify the extent and who will be covered by the deployment ban,” he said.       


The POEA imposed a ban in 2002, but partially lifted it last year, she added.     


Baldoz said the POEA allowed the deployment to Afghanistan of returning workers or those who have existing contracts in US military camps.       


“Upon the recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), OFWs already on-site or in US military camps were allowed to work,” she said.       


Yesterday, the DFA raised to 3 the crisis alert level in Afghanistan and advised OFWs to voluntarily return home.        


However, some Filipinos are reportedly reluctant to leave their jobs.        


OFWs working inside US bases said they need not avail of the government’s repatriation program and would just finish their employment contracts.         


Security inside the remaining US bases in Afghanistan is tight and they are safe from the political turmoil, they added.         


Based on POEA data, over 8,000 OFWs have been deployed to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2013, Baldoz said.


DFA spokesman Charles Jose said yesterday employers of Filipino workers in Afghanistan will be required to shoulder the cost of their repatriation.


Speaking in a forum yesterday morning, Jose said Filipinos in Afghanistan can be repatriated since an alert level 3 has already been raised.


“The big difference in other countries when there is an alert level 3, it is the government would pay for the repatriation cost but in the case of Afghanistan, the employers would be asked to pay for the repatriation of their Filipino employees,” he said.


“Most of the workers were directly hired by US defense contractors so since they were able to bring them inside Afghanistan, we expect the employers to bring them out,” he said.


Jose said it is indicated in Philippine passports that the bearer is not allowed to travel to Afghanistan.


The Philippines has no embassy in Afghanistan and the embassy in Pakistan oversees the welfare of Filipinos workers in that country, he added.


Some 4,000 Filipinos are in Afghanistan, a majority of whom are staying in the capital Kabul. 


27 more arrive from Libya


Twenty-seven more Filipinos arrived from Libya yesterday.


The new arrivals are employees of the Doosan, Daemyung, Sunchang-Hyundai and Alnahr Companies.


The DFA said the total number of repatriates from the war-torn country has now reached 515.


In troubled Syria, 33 Filipinos have availed of the government’s repatriation program and are scheduled to arrive today. They are expected at 10:10 p.m. 


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) paid for their airfare.


It will bring the total number of Filipinos repatriated from Syria to 5,422.


The DFA said an estimated 2,400 Filipinos have remained in Syria.


Ban in Iraq has no effect


Baldoz said Tuesday the travel ban in Iraqi Kurdistan has not affected the deployment of Filipino workers in other Middle East countries.


“The deployment ban in Iraq has not affected our deployment of OFWs in other areas, even as the demand remained higher,” she said.


Baldoz said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will encourage the Saudi Arabian government to have a tie-up with various schools in Zamboanga City to allow fresh graduates to apply for work after complying with all the necessary qualifications.


Saudi Arabia is looking for more than 5,000 nurses, she added.  – Mayen Jaymalin, Evelyn Macairan, Pia Lee-Brago, Roel Pareño


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