Deployment of OFWs to Israel not banned, only delayed — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2021   •   3742

MANILA, Philippines —  The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) assured that Filipino healthcare workers (HCW) scheduled for deployment to Israel will be safe and secure despite the ongoing armed conflict in the Middle Eastern region.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III clarified that there is no existing ban on the deployment of workers to Israel.

“We have not banned the deployment of our workers to Israel. The processing of those who already qualified continues. We are merely suspending their actual departure while the tension is still high,” he explained.

“Ang pakiusap ko pa sa ating mga paalis na caregivers at healthcare workers ay ipagpaliban ng ilang araw ang kanilang biyahe upang hindi sila mapahamak. Sagutin ko po sila kay Pangulong Duterte kung ano man ang mangyari sa kanila in case sila ay umalis sa kabila ng mataas na tension doon sa Israel. It will just be about a few days of delay. We just want to be sure they will be safe,” he noted.

Recently, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported that some 400 Filipino caregivers are scheduled to be deployed to Israel under an existing bilateral labor agreement.

“We had a meeting with our counterparts in Israel because we are on the final step for the deployment of our OFWs,” said POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia.

“It is also a good thing because we are yet to receive an advisory regarding the ban. So, we will proceed with the deployment of our 400 home-based caregivers in Israel,” he added.

Since there is no existing ban and Israel remains on Alert Level 1, Administrator Olalia said the deployment of OFWs to Israel’s residential zones that are far from the areas of conflict will take place this month.

Gov’t travel restrictions bar OFWs bound for Red List countries from leaving

Maris Federez   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for the countries under the Red List cannot still go out of the country amid the threat of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

The POEA said that even if OFWs have complete travel documents, they still cannot leave because there are no outbound international flights going to their employment destination.

POEA administrator Attorney Bernard Olalia stated that because inbound flights from counties under the Red List are banned, outbound flights going there are affected as well.

“At bilang nasa kategorya ng Red List countries, kanselado po lahat ng incoming international flights, at pagka kanselado po ang international incoming flights ay syempre wala ring outbound international flights,” he said.

Based on the resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases seven countries were added to the Red List were cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant which health authorities categorized as a variant of concern.

These countries are Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy.

Inbound flights from these countries were banned to prevent the entry of the said variant.

Olalia said that POEA will issue a labor advisory to OFWs affected by the travel ban to guide them on what action to take.

Meanwhile, OFWs from the Red List countries will be allowed to return to the Philippines via repatriation flights organized by the government, the Bayanihan Flights, and flights initiated by non-government organizations.

“Kapag galing po kayo sa ibang bansa na ganyan, at ito pong flight ninyo ay isang government-initiated flight, o kaya NGO-initiated flight, o kaya Bayanihan flight na in-arrange po ng POLO o DFA. Kayo po ay papayagan namang makalapag dito kapag kayo ay OFW,” Olalia said.

The POEA said OFWs who are interested to avail of the repatriation flights may coordinate with the Philippine Embassy for the availability of slots.

OFW passengers are required to undergo the 14-day mandatory facility-based quarantine, as well as, an RT-PCR testing on the 7th day upon arrival in the Philippines. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aileen Cerrudo)

DOLE suspends deployment of domestic workers to Saudi Arabia

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has suspended the deployment of newly hired household service workers (HSW) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following reports of domestic workers being abused by their employers in the said country.

Based on an urgent memorandum by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the suspension will not be lifted until guidelines on the recruitment of domestic workers are finalized.

Bello directed the Philippine Overseas Labor Officer (POLO) in KSA to stop the verification of documents of newly hired HSWs to be deployed in the said country.

Bello cited a report regarding a certain retired general in Saudi Arabia named Ayed Thawah Al Jealid who still continues to recruit Filipinos to work in the said country despite complaints of abuse lodged against him.

The DOLE chief said Al Jealid always seemed to get through the verification of employment contract processes of POLO and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) by using other individuals to pose as employers.

“POEA and POLO need to come out with a new set of verification guidelines to prevent the abuse committed by Gen. Ayed (Thawah Al Jealid) in KSA,” Bello said.

“Gen. Ayed was able to circumvent POLO and POEA rules on verification by placing in the employment contract a pseudo-KSA employer when in fact he was the real employer,” he added.

Bello recommended to the POEA and POLO to indicate the addresses of the blacklisted employers alongside their names.

“Under the new verification guidelines, it’s not only the employer who is blacklisted but also the address of the employer,” Bello said.

Meanwhile, POLO-KSA clarified that only newly hired household service workers are included in the said suspended deployment.

It added that the deployment of domestic workers with renewed contracts and skilled workers is still in effect.

“The suspension does not include verification of renewed contracts of HSWs. Except for Mega and Construction companies, the suspension does not also affect the processing and verification of employment documents relating to the hiring of skilled workers,” it said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aileen Cerrudo)

DOLE lifts suspension of OFW deployment to Israel

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday (July 14) lifted the suspension of deployment of Filipino workers to Israel.

DOLE issued a memorandum, stating that Filipino workers can be deployed to Israel effective immediately after an almost two-month ban.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the decision was based on the recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) due to the low-level incidents between the Israel Defense Force and Palestinian militant groups. This was after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in May.

On May 20, 2021, DOLE suspended the deployment of Filipino workers due to the tension between the Israel Defense Force and Palestine. AAC

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