Lift deployment bans to give OFWs more jobs, gov’t urged

02/12/2009 | 02:13 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Amid the specter of tens of thousands of Filipino workers losing their jobs at home and abroad in the face of a worsening global economic crisis, a recruitment consultant on Thursday urged the government to tap an “obvious” alternative: lift deployment bans in other countries.

Emmanuel Geslani said it is now apparent that the government would have to let Filipinos work again in countries which had earlier been deemed unsafe for migrants.

“It is high time that the government accept the stark reality that despite the ban thousands of Filipinos continue to slip into Iraq and Lebanon after the Philippine government imposed a ban,” Geslani said.

Geslani estimates that between 10,000 and 15,000 Filipinos are in Iraq, most of them work inside heavily fortified US facilities.

“Many Filipinos who finished their contracts in Dubai and Kuwait were actively recruited by these companies and flown in or brought directly to US bases via armed land convoys,” he said.

Geslani stressed that the situation in Iraq has improved in recent months and the government should rethink its deployment ban there especially since the US government is set to fund an $80-billion infrastructure project in the war-ravaged country.

He also reported that several Filipino domestic helpers who stayed in Lebanon after the August 2006 evacuation have now upgraded their skills, working in restaurants and hotels in the country’s capital.

“Figures provided by the Lebanese Ministry of Immigration to Lebanon’s honorary consul general in Manila, Hon. Josef Assad, reveals that more than 43,000 Filipino maids entered Lebanon for the period between 2006 and 2008,” Geslani added.

Enrique Manalo, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) undersecretary for policy, earlier expressed the Philippines’ readiness to supply Iraq with skilled Filipino workers should their safety be assured.

Manalo didn’t want a repeat of the death of Dionasis Saguid, a Filipino cook, who was killed in a mortar attack inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone last June.

The 32-year-old was convinced by an illegal recruiter to defy the travel ban. He managed to enter Iraq via Dubai. Saguid earned $1,000 a month in Baghdad.

Aside from sending a Filipino team to asses the situation in Iraq, Manalo hopes that toward the end of the 6th RP-Iraq Joint Commission Meeting, the oil-rich country could also help provide a clearer picture of the actual situation in the area.

The Department of Labor and Employment had earlier identified the Middle East as the region seen to be less hit by the global economic crisis, offering an oasis for Filipino jobseekers.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said that 5,404 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have been displaced since October 2008, including 4,140 from Taiwan, 298 from the United Arab Emirates, 180 from Canada, 81 from Australia, and 74 from South Korea.

The countries where the remaining number of retrenched Filipino workers came from were not disclosed. – GMANews.TV


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