correcting previous post:
It’s OK to lift deployment ban to Lebanon – DFA
03/23/2009 | 06:46 PM
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has agreed to lift the three-year deployment ban to Lebanon after the safety of Filipinos in that Western Asian country was assured.
According to the DFA, the armed conflict in the Middle East state “has already ended and is no longer posing security threat” to overseas Filipino workers (OFW)
Presidential envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu, who was sent to Lebanon last month to assess the security condition in the country, said that it was already safe to resume the deployment of OFWs there because peace and stability had returned to the Middle East state.
Vice President Noli de Castro supported the DFA’s decision and said that Lebanon could provide an alternative destination to laid off OFWs. “There is no more reason to maintain the deployment ban to Lebanon. Many of our countrymen badly need jobs today and Lebanon offers plenty of employment opportunities.”
But before the ban could be officially lifted, De Castro called on the Labor department and the DFA to negotiate a bilateral agreement with Lebanon to protect the welfare of OFWs.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier said that it was in no rush to allow the re-entry of Filipino household service workers (HSWs) to Lebanon unless authorities could safeguard the welfare of OFWs.
Labor Secretary Marianito Roque told GMANews.TV that the DOLE had not yet decided to lift the ban pending proposed amendments from the department. He said the DOLE had sent out a draft of a memorandum of understanding to their counterparts in Lebanon as condition for the redeployment of Filipino HSWs.
Included in the MOU are the protection of workers’ rights and the minimum salary for HSWs pegged at $400 per month.
The DFA expects that the lifting of the 2006 ban in Lebanon will lead to more job opportunities for thousands of Filipinos affected by the US-led global economic slump.
Lebanon’s honorary consul-general to the Philippines, Josef Assad, welcomed the proposed lifting of the ban. “This is a positive step in the in normalization and improvement of relations between Lebanon and the Philippines.”
“This will perk up relations between the two countries as this will remove the barrier which has prevented thousands of Filipinos from working in Lebanon which is now experiencing an economic boom and is need of thousands of construction workers to complete the infrastructure billion-dollar projects like highways and bridges,” Assad said.
The government stopped sending Filipino workers to the Mideastern state in 2006 when violence between Hezbollah and Israeli forces escalated.
At that time, some 6,000 OFWs, many of them undocumented, were repatriated to the Philippines. Some 26,000 opted to stay either due to fear of losing their jobs or because they were not allowed by their employers to leave.
The Philippines had also stopped sending workers to Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, and Nigeria. – with Mark Joseph Ubalde, GMANews.TV