The Philippine Barangay Society in Nigeria (PBSN), which was organized by pioneering OFWs in Nigeria way back the late 70’s, remains on the forefront of this appeal to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The travel ban affected not only New Hires but vacationing OFWs as well, and those OFWs who had been working in Lagos and non-oil areas for many years. When kidnapped OFW Albert Bacani Sr returned to the Philippines after his release, he asked for the lifting of the ban, declaring that he will still be returning to Nigeria after two month´s vacation. Proof that he believed in the safety of working in Nigeria.
Since March 2007 to November 2007, there was a confusion among Nigeria-based OFWs on the on-again, off-again decision on the lifting of ban to Nigeria. This has caused so much stress and anxiety to OFWs, especially those scheduled for vacations.
In November 2007, Nigeria-based OFWs sent petitions and e-mails requesting at the least, to reduce the ban to partial, allowing those with residency status to take vacation without problems.
Despite the massive online and offline efforts, there were no encouraging results. The ban remained. And the Nigeria OFWs had to make the difficult decision of not going home to the Philippines in December 2007 for the Christmas holidays.
Nigeria is a safe country
PBSN said that the OFWs in Nigeria believe that the imposition of the Total Ban is not the solution to this issue of kidnapping in Southeast Nigeria, which for the record, also involved other nationalities. The continued ban is hurting every Filipinos’ chance of getting a decent work and a chance to contribute to the Philippine economy.
The OFWs themselves in the oil-areas have sent numerous letters to the Philippine embassy assuring the embassy that they feel safe with the present security efforts implemented in their workplace.
Filipino workers in Nigeria are in the oil & gas industry, civil and military aviation (pilots and avionics), construction, manufacturing, telecom and service industries. Others are married to Nigerians, and the rest are relatives of Filipinos with residency status.
Instead of declaring a Total Ban on Nigeria, the OFW association believe that advisories from the Philippine Embassy for precautionary measures and security information will be sufficient action for the protection of the OFWs.
This ‘advisory’ is being done by the embassies of other nations regarding the day-to-day situation in Nigeria. The Philippine Embassy can coordinate with the various companies to ensure that their Filipino employees are aware of the actions to take in cases of security threats.
Nigeria OFWs also join their petition with the Filipinos in Afghanistan in asking President Macapagal-Arroyo to consider lifting the travel ban on both countries…