Immigration eases rules on returning OFWs to Nigeria

MARK JOSEPH UBALDE, GMANews.TV
12/18/2008 | 09:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines-  Janette Alican risked a good job in Nigeria to be with her family this Christmas.

The total deployment ban imposed by the Philippine government bars
Filipinos from going to the oil-rich African nation due to the spate of kidnappings ? both in Nigeria’s soil and seas ? in 2006.

Earlier this month, Alican, who holds a resident visa in Nigeria, flew from the capital city of Abuja to Manila. Now, she fears she can’t go back to the German company in Abuja that employed her.

“I feel like I’m being imprisoned in my own country,” she tearfully said during a forum Thursday on the UN Migrant Workers’ Convention, a joint undertaking of the state Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the civil society group Center for Migration Advocacy (CMA).

“The President left for Qatar to get jobs there. I have a job in Nigeria,why can’t I get back there?” she said.

Lawyer Edgardo Mendoza, chief Immigration Regulation Commission, assured returning migrant workers like Alican that they could re-enter Nigeria as long as they present the necessary documents.

In an interview with GMANews.TV on Thursday, Mendoza said migrants who have secured a Balik-Manggagawa (Return to Work) permit from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and a resident visa could return to the African country.

Mendoza added that the POEA would issue a guideline soon on the issuance of special permits to returning workers in Nigeria.

Mendoza refused to comment whether the special permit would extend to three other countries with existing total deployment bans, namely: Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

There is also no word on the state of the workers who want to return to Jordan where a temporary suspension of deployment on domestic workers is implemented.

Karen Gomez-Dumpit, director of the CHR’s Government Linkages Office
promised to personally assist Janette by finding out if the rule is
subjective or not.

“What if you encounter an Immigration officer who is ignorant of the rule, how can you explain to him that you can leave?” Dumpit said during the forum.

If successful, Alican would leave for Nigeria on the 27th.

Recruiters have sought the lifting of deployment bans to Lebanon, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Iraq, saying the Philippines is losing out on job opportunities for Filipino workers.

Jackson Gan, vice president of the Federated Association of Manpower
Exporters, said that there are less demand for Filipinos in countries where workers are freely deployed.

The Philippine government imposed a deployment ban on Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan due to security threats to Filipino workers.

The deployment of domestic workers to Jordan was suspended due to the
upsurge of abuses against Filipino household service workers in the Middle Eastern country. – GMANews.TV

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