Global alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Migrante International today urged the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to employ all urgent measures to stop illegal deployment of OFWs to countries that had not been certified as “safe for work”.
The migrant group issued the statement following reports that recruitment agencies continue to deploy workers to countries that have failed to acquire certification from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) due to lack of laws ensuring the welfare and protecting rights of migrant workers.
Countries that were not certified are Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Nigeria following an evaluation of the DFA of their security and labor conditions. The POEA, however, is yet to issue a directive to recruitment agencies and deployment of OFWs is still ongoing to the five countries.
“If the law (Republic Act 10022, or the amended Migrants’ Act) is to be strictly implemented, all deployments to said countries should now be deemed illegal. Continuous deployment would place our workers at the risk of human rights and other violations,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.
Of the five non-certified countries, Migrante International has recorded continuous cases of human and labor rights violations in Afghanistan and Jordan despite the existence of the ban.
It can be recalled that the DFA earlier admitted that it had failed to employ the deployment ban in Afghanistan, following the deaths of some Filipino pilots in an accident there late last year. In Jordan, Migrante had reported cases of “state-sponsored human trafficking” wherein embassy posts were involved in the authentication of employment certificates of some 300 OFWs despite the deployment ban.
Martinez also called on the newly-appointed POEA Administrator Carlos Cao, Jr. to also closely monitor deployment in countries that were certified by the DFA but in which cases of human and labor rights violations remain rampant. He cited Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia wherein Migrante International has pending cases of human rights violations.
Furthermore, Martinez said, though the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has announced that the government presently has more than 100 bilateral agreements with different countries, they have yet to make available the scope and content of such agreements.
RA 10022 stipulates that a country viable for OFW deployment should have existing labor and social laws protecting rights of workers, including migrant workers, that it should be a signatory of bilateral or multilateral agreements relating to the protection of migrant workers, or that it has taken “positive and concrete measures” to protect migrant workers.
“Alarmingly, the government’s persistent implementation of its systematic labor export program has been pushing our very own agencies to violate our own laws at the expense of OFWs’ rights and welfare. ###