• POEA lifts deployment ban to Thailand

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    The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has lifted the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers, both vacationing and new hires, to Thailand.

    On the other hand, the POEA is set to stop the processing of household service workers (HSWs) for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after it suspended the verification of contracts of household service workers.

    Rosalinda Baldoz, secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the chairman of the POEA governing board, said they have approved and issued a resolution allowing the resumption of processing and deployment to Thailand.

    She told a news conference at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration that the decision to lift the deployment ban was made after the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok reported that the situation there has “returned mostly to normal.”

    On January 23, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) raised a crisis alert level in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok, Nonthaburi Province, Lad Lun Kaew District and Bang Phil District, after the declaration of a 60-day state emergency brought about the by escalating civil unrest and insecurities there.

    The crisis alert level of the DFA prompted the POEA to issue a temporary suspension on the processing and deployment of newly hired OFWs bound for the said areas.

    Republic Act 10022 authorizes the POEA governing board after consultation with the DFA to impose a ban on the deployment of Filipino migrant workers in pursuit of national interest or when public welfare so requires.

    On March 21, the DFA lowered the crisis alert level in Thailand to Alert Level one, which prompted the POEA to allow the resumption of the processing and deployment of OFWs there.

    The deployment ban was once again declared on May 21 after the DFA raised anew the crisis alert level to Crisis Alert Level 2 after the Martial Law declaration by Thailand’s army.

    “The DOLE continuously works closely with the DFA in monitoring the situation in Thailand, and in all OFW-countries of destination which are having conflicts to ensure the welfare and protection of our OFWs. We are not taking any chances when OFW safety and welfare are at stake,” Baldoz said.

    Meanwhile, Baldoz said the suspension of the verification of contracts of household service workers by the UAE was unfortunate.

    She reiterated that the decision of the POEA to suspend the process was similar to what it did when the Saudi Arabia had unilaterally suspended contract verification.

    However, Baldoz clarified that the government will not declare a deployment ban to the Emirates.

    She reiterated that the verification of contracts of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) has always been a requirement under the Philippine laws and the rules and regulations on overseas employment, which the country applied for all countries of destination where OFWs were deployed, including the United Arab Emirates.

    Baldoz directed the POEA to closely coordinate with the Bureau of Immigration and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking to prevent Filipino workers from being victims of human trafficking if they travel “without the requisite verification.”

    “I have further directed the POEA to advise licensed recruitment agencies to explore markets for household service workers other than the UAE, even as I strongly warn illegal recruiters against deploying household service workers to UAE,” she added.

    On the other hand, the secretary remained confident that the UAE and the Philippines “will arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement on the employment of household service workers similar to what has been concluded between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, an agreement that is now in place and being implemented.”

    “The UAE has expressed interest to negotiate with the Philippines on this matter and we are glad to do so,” she said.

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