PBSN Chairperson Meets with VP Noli de Castro

March 27, 2009

27 March 2009 — Philippine Vice President Noli de Castro held a meeting with PBSN Chairperson, Mrs. Esperanza Derpo this morning, at his office at President Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, Pasay City. Also in the meeting were Special Envoy of the President to Middle East and African Countries, Gen. Roy Cimatu; and Mrs. Derpo’s other half, Engr. Nestor Derpo.

Meeting with VP Noli de Castro


Mrs. Derpo appealed to the Vice President to strongly endorse the lifting of the OFW deployment ban to Nigeria which has been in place for more than two years. She discussed at length the many reasons why the ban should be lifted, noting the issues on security; working and business opportunities for Filipinos in Nigeria; and the current working conditions of the OFW’s there, among others.

The Vice President was impressed to hear of the high regard companies in Nigeria have for Filipinos brought about by our OFW’s working ethics, skills and professionalism, which make them a preference for supervisory, managerial and other key positions in various industries all throughout Nigeria. He also commends PBSN’s charity efforts to the Philippines and its host country Nigeria as seen in the various projects the organization has pushed through with the leadership of Mrs. Derpo.


The Vice President says that he is fully convinced that the ban should be lifted and believes that taking this up in the cabinet meeting can enlighten other officials to make a sound decision. He invited Gen. Cimatu to present the issue in the cabinet meeting in Malacanang on Tuesday, including Mrs. Derpo as a resource person.

Mrs. Derpo is scheduled to attend the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, March 31, 2009.

as reported by: Carlota Derpo


It’s OK to lift deployment ban to Lebanon – DFA

March 25, 2009

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.

Job opportunities

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


RP will not lift ban on workers in Iraq

November 20, 2008

iraq_rel_2004We in Nigeria are seriously following this story. It is good that the Iraqi government is the one requesting the Philippine government to consider lifting of travel and work ban. Truly, how many countries declared a travel and work ban to Iraq?

Not even the US, which has the highest casualty in Iraq, declared ban on Iraq. They issue travel advisories.

Maybe the Philippine government has the best ‘risk-assessment’ team in the world, beating the likes of US and UK, so much so that only RP declares Nigeria a very high-risk country, on the same level as Iraq.

If the Philippine government blinked for awhile about the idea of lifting the travel and work ban to Iraq, we wonder what would it take for them to remove the same ban to Nigeria…

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata..


11/15/2008 | 02:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has no immediate plan to lift a ban on its citizens working in Iraq, the labor secretary said Saturday after a plea from an Iraqi diplomat for more foreign laborers to help with the war-torn country’s reconstruction.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said there would be no deployment of Filipino workers pending an assessment of the security situation in Iraq.

Iraqi officials asked the Philippines to lift the ban several weeks ago because of an expected construction boom, Roque said.

“I told them, ‘Wait a minute. We have to see if you can guarantee the security of our workers, before we consider allowing our workers to work in Iraq,'” he said in a radio broadcast.

The Philippines’ economy is largely dependent on its overseas workers. Some 8.7 million of the Philippines’ 90 million people work abroad and last year they sent home $14.45 billion — about 10 percent of gross domestic product.

Iraq’s charge d’affaires Adel Mawlood Hamoudi al-Hakimh said Friday that the Middle Eastern country needs construction and oil workers, engineers, nurses, teachers and technicians.

The Philippines banned its citizens from working in Iraq in July 2004 after insurgents abducted and threatened to behead Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz. He was released after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agreed to withdraw the Philippines’ small military contingent in Iraq — a decision strongly criticized by Washington and other coalition allies.

Roque said about 10,000 Filipinos work in two U.S. military camps without permission from the Philippine government. Al-Hakimh said the number of Filipino workers has risen to 15,000 despite the ban. – AP



‘Iraq ban an issue of security, not job demand’
11/15/2008 | 01:39 PM
MANILA, Philippines – Following Iraq’s declaration that the war-torn country is currently in need of millions of foreign workers, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque on Saturday said that the issue at hand is about security, not the lack of job opportunities.

Adel Mawlood Hamoudi al-Hakimh, Iraqi’s charge d’affaires on Friday said Iraq needs about 10 million foreign workers for the reconstruction of his country and urged the Philippines to lift a ban that prevents Filipino laborers from going there.

In an interview on Vice President Noli de Castro’s radio program on Saturday, Roque noted that while the Philippines needs plenty of job opportunities for its workers, it should not be at the expense of safety and security.

“’Yung paglilift ng ban ay subject for security assessment ng ating Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) (The lifting of the ban is subject for security assessment by the DFA),” Roque said.

He said that the decision depended very much on DFA’a assessment, which is supposed to be released in December.

“Kung sa tingin nila ay wala nang peligro sa ating mga kababayan ay tsaka lang tayo maglilift ng deployment ban d’yan sa Iraq (If they think that the impending danger for our people is gone, that’s the only time when we will lift the deployment ban on Iraq),” Roque said.

“’Yung welfare at security ng mga kababayan natin ang importante above all (The welfare and security of our people is the most important above all),” he said.

He said that they talked with Iraqi officials during the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) held in Manila last month.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Jennifer Manalili has also expressed apprehension, saying that when they met with the Iraqi representatives and talked about the current situation in the oil-rich state, the reply was not encouraging.

“I asked them, ‘Can we guarantee the safety of the workers there?’” Manalili recalled telling the Iraqi delegate. “When they said ‘Not everywhere in Iraq,’ then the ban stayed.”

Roque apparently had asked them the same question, saying that in the end, the Philippine government would still be the one to bear the consequences of lifting the ban.

“’Yung mga kompanya naman kapag may nangyari, bumubitiw agad sila (Those companies, when something happens, they immediately bail out),” he said.
Roque also said that the actions of United States President-elect Barack Obama should be considered. The top White House official had promised to pull out the American troops from Iraq within 16 months after taking his seat.

“’Yan ang malaking factor diyan, kung ano ang kanyang magiging polisiya niya tungkol sa Iraq (That’s a big factor, whatever his policies are going to be regarding Iraq),” he said.

Moreover, Roque said that DOLE is well aware that there are still many undocumented Filipino workers in Iraq.

He said that there are currently 10,000 Filipino workers working in Iraq unregistered.

“Wala nang legal (Filipino workers) ‘dun, lahat ‘yun ay matatawag nating unregistered (There are no more legal Filipino workers there, you can call all of them unregistered),” he said.

He also said they have alerted Kuwait and Saudi Arabia since they are the most likely areas by which undocumented workers might pass through in order to reach Iraq. Some of them have also entered the country via neighboring countries Jordan and Syria with coalition forces or US companies.

The Philippines has officially banned its citizens from working in Iraq since July 2004 after insurgents abducted Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz.

Dela Cruz was threatened with beheading but his captors released him after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agreed to withdraw the Philippines’ small military contingent in Iraq — a decision strongly criticized by Washington and other coalition allies.

Some 8.7 million Filipinos out of the country’s 90 million people work overseas. Last year Filipinos working abroad sent home a total of $14.45 billion — about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. – GMANews.TV


Nigeria-base OFWs renew appeal to PGMA to lift the ban

October 28, 2008

Lagos, Nigeria

A Filipino association in Nigeria have renewed their appeal to the Philippine government to lift the travel and work ban ordered by DFA under Usec Esteban Conejos since March 2007.

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.

raffle draw during Family Day

raffle draw during Family Day

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.

Safety Advisory

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…


July 5, 2008

MANILA, OCTOBER 14, 2007 (STAR) By Pia Lee-Brago – The Filipino electrical supervisor who was released last Wednesday by his kidnappers in Nigeria, arrived yesterday in Manila and appealed to the government to lift the partial ban on the deployment of workers to Nigeria.

Albert Bacani Sr. made the appeal in the weekly dzMM radio program “Para Sa Iyo Bayan” of Vice President Noli de Castro after he arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Bacani, chief electrician of an Italian petrochemical company in Nigeria, and another co-worker were abducted by armed bandits last Sept. 27 from SAIPEM’s petrochemical complex in Port Harcourt in River State, Nigeria.

Since January, at least nine cases of kidnapping of foreign workers in Nigeria involved overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), which prompted the Philippine government to impose a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to oil-rich Nigeria.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the partial ban on OFWs in Nigeria stays and that workers currently deployed there may avail themselves of the ongoing repatriation program. Only returning OFWs are allowed to go back to their same employers and jobsite in Nigeria.

Bacani said that despite his ordeal, he will return to Nigeria after two months of vacation here.

He said Nigeria is a good labor market for OFWs where foreign companies offer good compensation for workers.

He added that the eight armed men who kidnapped him are not part of an organized group that is responsible for the other abductions of foreign workers in Nigeria.

Bacani had undergone medical check-up and psychological evaluation after he and his Colombian co-worker were released by the abductors to the State Security Services of Nigeria on a bridge in Port Harcourt last Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo ordered the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria to facilitate the repatriation of Bacani to Manila and conveyed his release to his family.

The government expressed gratitude to the Nigerian government and SAIPEM for their efforts to secure the release of Bacani.

Sen. Manuel Roxas II warned jobseekers to avoid accepting employment offers to Nigeria.

He said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration had suspended the processing of job contracts for Nigeria until the peace and order situation in the said African country improves.

The senator also underscored the need for workers’ vigilance against bogus online recruitment scams proliferating in the Internet. – With Aurea Calica