OFW’s Appeal to “LIFT the BAN” on Deployment to NIGERIA

H.E. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

H.E. Vice President Noli De Castro

There is a lot of pressure and stress experienced by all of us (OFW in Nigeria) due to the issuance of the travel ban to Nigeria. It is quite sometime now that this travel ban was imposed. Our quest for help to lift the ban through various options is not being heared and actioned by the respective responsible authorities in our Government. We hope that your intervention will result in a positve decision to lift the ban with effect immediately.

We work on this as a joint endeavour among our Filipino community here in Nigeria to bring us to a level of comfort in finding a wayforward solution by seeking help from our Government on this problem situation, unfortunately, it has taken a long time now and our effort in soliciting our Government officials to act positively on this issue has no success until todate.

The attach petition letters are very generous request that highlights what we need from your end. Our situation here in Nigeria is better than other troubled countries and could comparatively compete with our country in terms of peace and security situation. In fact during this recent news in our country, relating to the political issues, we feel that our present Government is getting into a situation where people in your cabinet needs to change. We sympathize with you on the current situation caused by other officials who never think of good things for the Government, but for their own benefits.

In closing, we would appreciate your concern and prompt action on this matter. Rest assured that our community and families are in support of your plans. Thank you very much.

Respectfully Yours,

Filipinos in Nigeria

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Nigeria OFW’s 2nd Appeal

H.E. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

H.E. Vice President Noli De Castro

Malacanang Palace

Manila

Philippines

Your Excellencies,

This is the second time in the last two weeks that the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in Nigeria make use this medium to cry and appeal for your urgent intervention on the issue of the Total Ban on the Deployment of OFWs to Nigeria.

On 16th November 2007, our first Petition Letter on this subject jointly addressed to Your Excellencies was published on the pages of a Philippine newspaper. This publication was arranged by and paid for through the combined efforts and pooled contributions of the OFW community in Nigeria.

The entire community erupted in jubilation and happiness when the Department of Labour and Employment announced in the papers on 17th November 2007 the partial lifting of the deployment ban for OFWs in Nigeria and three other countries. We fervently prayed and waited for this announcement as this meant so much to us, specially those who have already planned and arranged for their home leaves and Christmas vacation this December 2007. At last, we could travel to the Philippines to see our loved ones with the assurance that we could return to our employment in Nigeria after our vacation.

But our joy was very shortlived because one day after this announcement, the Department of Labour, in a press release, issued another directive announcing the deferment of its first one until further notice. The reason for such deferment, as stated in its second directive, is the refusal of the Department of Foreign Affairs to issue a Certificate of No Objection to the partial lifting of the deployment ban on OFW to the mentioned countries.

Your Excellencies, we really do not know what is going on between these two government departments. We do not know the protocol in their consultations, deliberations and communications with each other. We do not know if they are coordinating on this issue or if there is a communications gap between them. If it is there, then it is indeed very sad that this lapse will become the cause for the deep and unspeakable disappointment within the OFW community in Nigeria. We do not know and we find it very difficult to understand why a public directive, so eagerly awaited and so much prayed for by so many, can easily be reversed less than forty eight hours after its issuance.

But what we simply know, Your Excellencies, is the fact that this counter-directive from DOLE has caused so much anguish and pain in our community. Most of us have prepared months ahead for our Christmas in the Philippines. Our wives, our children, our parents, our relations and friends in the Philippines have made their own preparations and are eagerly anticipating our homecoming this Yuletide Season. Please do not disappoint them, do not disappoint us, further.

We kindly request to call to order these aforementioned agencies and come up with a final decision on this deployment ban. By their unfortunate actions, the OFWs in Nigeria are being treated like misbehaving children. All of us here are professionals, responsible, mature and industrious. We work hard for our families and for the progress of the Philippines. At the same we have made ourselves worthwhile ambassadors for our country as we have made positive impressions in Nigeria.

Lastly, Your Excellencies, Nigeria is a safe place, safer that other countries in the region. Most of us have stayed in this wonderful country for decades. Our children were born here and have finished their education here. The reported incidences of social problems in the Niger Delta is not a mirror of the security situation for the entire country. In our earlier petition letter, we have amplified this and other reasons why the ban on the deployment of OFW in Nigeria should be lifted.

We wish you a Joyful Christmas and a Prosperous Coming Year and we hope, Your Excellencies, will grant the same wish to the OFWs in Nigeria and their waiting families in the Philippines.

Very respectfully yours,

Overseas Filipino Workers in Nigeria

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Nigeria OFW’s 1st Appeal

H.E. Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Malacañang Palace

Manila

Philippines

Your Excellency,

We, the signatories to this open letter, are Filipino Overseas Workers (OFW) employed at various places in Nigeria and we earnestly appeal for the lifting of the current ban on the deployment of OFWs to Nigeria.

We are constrained to address this letter direct to your attention and through this medium with the sincere hope that your urgent and kind intervention will finally provide succour to our plight. We have written letters, sent numerous e-mails and made so many calls to our Embassy in Nigeria, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labour and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration regarding this issue, but sadly it remains unresolved. We have contacted members of Congress for their assistance but it is even more sad that our appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

First of all, Madam President, we request full clarification on the real nature and intent of this ban as there seems to be conflicting interpretations. Initially we understand that this was a partial deployment ban to cover only those OFWs coming to Nigeria for the first time and therefore their travel documents will not be processed by POEA. Now, it is a total ban wherein we are made to understand that those OFWs currently in Nigeria who intend to go for their home leave or Christmas vacation will no longer be allowed to return to their employment in Nigeria. This also covers those who already travelled to the Philippines but are stranded and cannot go back to their work.

Your Excellency, we truly believe that this deployment ban, be it partial or total, should be urgently reviewed and the directives of the POEA and DOLE on its implementation should be reversed immediately because of the following reasons:

1. The incidences of kidnapping of expatriates are confined mainly to a small area in Nigeria known as the Delta Region and they happen at remote swampy areas, creeks and lagoons of the region’s two states, Rivers and Delta. However, these incidents are certainly not daily occurrences but rather isolated cases which government security agencies have categorised as criminal activities and are not reflective of the entire security situation of the country.

However, it is very comforting to note that the Federal Government of Nigeria, under the current administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua, has put a high premium on the resolution of this social problem and the dividends are coming to fruition. This can be indicated by the increasing visits of the country’s Vice-President to the region for in-depth discussions on security and development programmes with the major stakeholders including multinational companies.

2. Multinational companies operating in the said region, in cooperation with government agencies, have very stringent and well-planned security and surveillance arrangements for all their expatriate and indigenous workers. Aside from such arrangements, these companies have updated contingency plans and evacuation procedures for said workers in the event of emergencies cropping up.

3. The Delta Region is far from Lagos and Abuja, the financial and political centers of the country. It is also far from other major urban centers like Ibadan, Benin, Abeokuta, Aba, in the south and Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Ilorin, in the north. These places are homes to big communities of OFWs and their dependents – are peaceful and quite; daily life and business activities go on normally. True, there are social problems therein, but they are also the same problems that are in the Philippines and other countries, perhaps worse than what is in Nigeria.

We are in the best position to know these things because most of us OFWs have stayed in Nigeria for more than five years. A good number of us have stayed for decades, have raised our families and have considered Nigeria a home away from home.

4. The employment benefits of OFWs in Nigeria are far better and higher than those offered in the Philippines and in the Middle East. OFWs in Nigeria have made very positive impressions on their employers and are most likely to be re-hired. However, this current deployment ban will certainly affect such re-employment. It is because those who are to go on home leave are requested to defer such leave, just wind up their contract and go home for good. Employers fully know that their Filipino workers can no longer return for employment because of this deployment ban. As a result, companies will source their skilled manpower requirements from other countries.

5. If we, OFWs in Nigeria who travel for home leave in the Philippines, are barred from returning to our employment (including those who have travelled before and now stranded in the Philippines), how can we meet our numerous financial commitments – monthly payments for mortgaged houses, children’s school fees, feeding for the family, water and electric bills, financial support for aged parents, etc?

Are there employment opportunities in the Philippines which can provide us far greater benefits than what we receive from our employers in Nigeria?

6. It is only the Philippine Government which has imposed travel restrictions on its citizens who seek for gainful employment in Nigeria. Other countries, whose citizens have been subject to much sever cases of abductions/kidnappings, issue travel advisories. This situation makes us a laughing stock among the expatriate communities in Nigeria.

Most of us, Madam President, have already made preparations to travel to the Philippines for our home leave or Christmas holidays this December 2007. Allow us to enjoy, even for a brief period, our cherished tradition of reunions with our families and loved ones without worry and anxiety but with the assurance that we can return to our employment in Nigeria for their further betterment.

Your Excellency, we will try to understand the rationale of this deployment ban in the same manner that you will try to understand our feelings and sentiments on the issue. While its reconsideration may not be forthcoming as speedily as we wish it to be, allow us to propose our humble suggestion in the interim:

The Philippine Embassy in Nigeria is our government’s frontline source of information on the host country. The Embassy is in the best position to ascertain the real situation affecting the welfare of Philippine nationals in Nigeria and as such, it could issue a Certification that an OFW in Nigeria is employed and working in a safe and secured area in the country. This will allow the OFW to proceed on home leave or Christmas vacation with the assured return to the place of employment in Nigeria.

Kami pong lahat na OFW dito sa Nigeria ay masayang bumabati ng MALIGAYANG PASKO AT MANIGONG BAGONG TAON sa inyong lahat.

Maraming salamat po.

Lubos na gumagalang,

OFWS in Nigeria

One Response to OFW’s Appeal to “LIFT the BAN” on Deployment to NIGERIA

  1. Remitter says:

    It’s high time that Arroyo government realised what the OFWs want. There has been a lack of understanding on the government’s part to gauge the prevalent mood. The harassed OFWs in Saudi Arabia want to go back but are facing a lot of problems while the OFWs in Nigeria do not want to return as they have to support their families which are in distress. The focus of the government under such circumstances should be on dealing with these two problems differently. The situation is already getting worse with the prices of essential commodities reaching an all time high steps like these are only going to intensify the problems.

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