Deployment of OFWs to Israel remains suspended for three more weeks — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   May 26, 2021   •   235

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has extended to three more weeks the suspension on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Israel.

According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the agency needs to make sure that all OFWs bound for Israel would be safe and the truce between Israel and Hamas is sincerely being carried out by both parties.

“Give it another two or three weeks at ma-maintain talaga ang strict observance of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian and the Hamas then we will already consider giving the OFWs the OEC which is the final document for their deployment,” Bello assured.

Once the suspension is lifted, about 400 caregivers may be accepted right away as stipulated under the Philippines and Israel’s bilateral agreement.

This is in addition to around 30,000 OFWs in Israel who are mostly caregivers.

To date, no Filipinos are hurt or killed in the ongoing unrest. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DOTr, DOLE to provide jobs to repatriated OFWs affected by COVID-19 pandemic

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Transportation (DOTr), along with other government agencies, has signed a memorandum that would provide job opportunities for repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

During the 2021 Migrant Workers’ Day celebration on Monday (June 7), DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide OFWs displaced by the pandemic with employment opportunities in the DOTr.

“Our repatriated OFWs who are out of work will be able to work under the DOTr at narito sila sa sarili nilang bansa. They no longer need to go out of the country because work is here at home. Second, we will not be looking elsewhere in getting the needed workforce to finish various infrastructure projects,” he said.

Under the said agreement, the DOTr will provide OWWA with a list of vacant positions and skills required where an OFW can apply for work. These include projects under the Build Build Build Program.

Tugade reported that 2,000 jobs will be made available under the PNR Clark Phase 1 Project.

He also said that the department will not only prioritize hiring OFWs, but also displaced public utility drivers and conductors once the project becomes operational. AAC

COVID vaccination not a condition for Singapore-bound OFWs — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   June 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Singapore are not required to get inoculated against COVID-19 before they are allowed into the city-state.

Labor Attaché in Singapore Saul De Vries said that vaccines are not part of the arrival protocols in the city-state but still the government of Singapore is implementing strict quarantine protocols due to the recurrence of COVID-19 cases.

“It is not a condition for OFWs to be inoculated before departing for their jobs. However, the Singapore government requires them to undergo a 21-day institutional quarantine and take RT-PCR test thrice,” De Vries said.

Following the recurrence of cases, De Vries said the Singapore government has temporarily suspended the entry approval applications of foreign workers from high-risk countries.

“Hopefully, such regulation or policy will be reviewed this coming July when cases of COVID-19 infection have slowed down,” he added.

Based on the Labor Department’s records, there are around 200,000 Filipinos in Singapore, 180,000 of whom consist of professionals, skilled workers, household service workers, healthcare workers, and those working in the service sector of the tourism and information technology industries.

De Vries also announced that POLO-Singapore has recently approved over 200 job orders (JOs) for vaccinators with a monthly salary, ranging from 1,800 to 2,000 SGD or equivalent to a little over P63,000.

“Aside from the 200 vaccinators, the demand for household service workers is still high in Singapore,” he added.

While it is not mandatory for OFWs to be vaccinated before they enter Singapore, De Vries said that migrant workers are included in the vaccination program of the government. OFWs are therefore highly encouraged to get inoculated, as this is the best way to fight the spread of the virus.

“I believe that most, if not all, of our OFWs in the healthcare industry have already been vaccinated, since they are included in the priority group listing,” De Vries said.

Despite the scaling down of POLO operations in Singapore, the office managed to distribute financial assistance of $200 or P10,000 under DOLE’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program to OFWs who either lost their jobs or experienced wage reduction, as well as those who contracted COVID-19.

Food packs, essential hygiene kits as well as physical and mental health and wellness activities have been provided for migrant Filipino workers especially the distressed ones to help them cope with their daily lives while community quarantines are enforced.

PH gov’t to consult with Israeli experts on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Robie de Guzman   •   June 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will seek advise from Israel’s Ministry of Health as part of its bid to further enhance the country’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

In a statement, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said three experts from Israel’s Ministry of Health will arrive in the country on June 20 to share their technical expertise and knowledge about the vaccination rollout.

“In particular, the experts will discuss strategies on the deployment of highly sensitive vaccine types, mechanisms that need to be put in place as the country transitions to the new normal, and ways on how to address vaccine hesitancy,” Galvez said.

Israel has been considered a model country due to its highly successful vaccination program. The country has recently ended its outdoor mask mandate policy after completely inoculating more than half of its population.

Schools in the country have also re-opened, as the Israeli government is now working to fully re-open the nation’s economy.

“We will study and look at the lessons learned by Israel and hopefully apply those in the Philippines,” Galvez said.

The vaccine czar said the Philippine government is currently studying the feasibility of adopting one of Israel’s interventions to increase public uptake, which is “providing privileges to those vaccinated and restrictions for those unvaccinated.”

He explained that this method works by allowing people who have received the jab to increase their mobility and slowly return to normalcy, while those who have not been vaccinated will still need to follow quarantine protocols.

Meanwhile, Galvez expressed support for the measures being used by local government units and private sector to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

“With the help of all sectors, unti-unti nang tumataas ang public uptake. We started with only 32% and now we are reaching 60% to 80% and with more aggressive efforts such as house-to-house campaigns, barangay town hall meetings, and tapping household advocates, tataas pa ‘yan,” said Galvez.

“Yung mga LGUs natin nagkakaroon din sila ng mga technique para magkaroon ng motivation sa kanilang mga residents, in a form of rice, pabuya, raffle, at iba pa,” he added.

LGUs have launched their respective incentive programs to encourage their constituents to get vaccinated.

Galvez said some LGUs are offering a sack of rice for every vaccinated individual, while some are organizing raffle draws for those who get the jab. Prizes include farm animals, groceries, motorcycles, and even a house and lot.

The private sector has also recently launched “Ingat Angat Bakuna Benefits” wherein vaccinated individuals get exclusive discounts and special gifts from the country’s leading restaurants nationwide.

He also said that the national government is now tapping “household advocates” to encourage their family members to get inoculated, noting that this approach is more effective as Filipinos trust and believe family members especially on topics of safety and protection.

 

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