Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez today said that they have “mixed feelings” on the recent deployment ban imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in 41 host countries that have been found non-compliant with the guarantees provided under RA 10022 or Migrants’ Act.
“On one hand, it is a positive development that the government seems to be taking serious action to ensure the protection of the rights of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). On the other hand, we question the government’s readiness to address the repercussions and implications of the ban. I could reasonably say that our fears and worries outweigh any other positive feelings we may have now,” Martinez said.
The migrant leader cited to two major concerns pertaining to the ban, 1) that the government is not ready to absorb the effects of the ban on unemployment among OFWs, and, 2) that the ban may result in more cases of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.
“How does the government plan to absorb the inevitable increase in unemployment that the ban will cause? We must keep in mind that our OFWs are forced to work abroad because there are no decent wages and jobs here. Do they have a concrete sustainable employment program for our OFWs? Kung seryoso sila sa pag-ban, dapat ay seryosohin din nila ang paglikha ng trabaho at pagbigay ng dagdag-sahod dito sa Pilipinas. If not, this recent move will just be mere lip service.”
Martinez said that OFWs may be more vulnerable to human trafficking and illegal recruitment as a result of the ban “because they would find alternative, illegal or ‘backdoor’, means to go abroad out of desperation”.
“We have handled numerous cases of human trafficking in host countries where deployment bans are in place, namely, Jordan and Iraq, and more recently, Syria and Bahrain. In some of the cases, some officials in government posts abroad are involved in the trafficking of our kababayans.”
In Libya, for instance, Martinez said that they have been receiving reports since August that the labor attaché there has been facilitating job orders for Filipino nurses in connivance with a local recruitment agency. (see related story)
Lastly, the migrant leader asked about the status of overseas Filipinos who are already in the banned host countries. “If there is now a ban, will there still be government posts to assist OFWs in distress? Who will they run to?” ###