Special report: Review policies on OFW deployment in Mena region, POEA urged

Posted By: Chris On:

MANILA, June 10, 2011—There is a need for a thorough review in policies regarding deployment of Filipino workers in the Middle East and North African (Mena) as political tension and civil unrest continue to plague the area.

Migrante Middle East (ME) regional coordinator John Monterona said in his e-mail, that the review is crucial to ensure the safety and welfare of the Filipino workers to be, or have already been, deployed there.

“The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration should, right away, conduct a serious inquiry about the matter and submit their recommendations to the President,” he said. He also said that the result of the policy review would guide President Benigno C. Aquino III in making a decision regarding the issue of deployment as well as the safety and security issues.

Mena region’s situation, volatile

The migrant leader said that scanning through various reports from their allies, counterparts and news networks in the Mena region, the situation there remains volatile. Even if the Bahrain government had already lifted the security alert, there are still indications that the situation remains unstable.

Monterona said that protesters are back in the streets, with the police force of Bahrain ready for violent dispersals.

“The political situation, generally in the Middle East and North Africa, remains volatile. The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ is far from over with the recent addition of Kuwait now besieged [with] demonstrations lead by the disgruntled and forceful youth dissenters,” he said.

However, the Monarch of Bahrain, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa had said that his government is open for reforms. In a news report, the Prince had been quoted welcoming the US support for national dialogue that will happen in the coming days.

Prince Salman also said that he fully shares US President Barack Obama’s outlook, with regards to the respect of human rights and on the progress of the dialogues for reforms necessary for the Kingdom of Bahrain.

However, Bahrain’s crowned prince admits, the process would be difficult.

There are other issues

Nevertheless, there are other issues that needed to be discussed and resolved, in connection with working at the Mena region, Monterona quipped.

“The burgeoning cases of abuses and maltreatment, labor malpractices characterized by contract padding or substitution, salary downgrading, non-payment of salaries, illegal salary deductions, more than 8 hours work without overtime pay, illegal recruitment and human trafficking, are enough reasons for the Philippine government to conduct a thorough review and evaluation of OFWs deployment in these countries,” Monterona explained.

When it comes to certifications, in line with the implementation of some provisions of the Republic Act (RA) 10022, Monterona said it is not enough.

“RA 10022 had listed three requirements for a country, recipient of exported labor from the Philippines, be certified “safe for OFWs”: (1) it has existing labor and social laws protecting the rights of workers; (2) It is a signatory to and/or had ratified multilateral conventions, declarations or resolutions relating to the protection of workers; and (3) Has concluded a bilateral agreement or arrangement with the government on the protection of the rights of OFWs. However, we see these requirements inadequate to certify a host country safe for the overseas Filipino worker to work in. What is often overlooked is the issue of implementation of the existing laws and international conventions for the migrant workers in these countries,” explained Monterona. (Noel Sales Barcelona)

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