MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration's (POEA) governing board has issued a ban on the deployment of newly-hired overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to four areas in Thailand.
"The POEA Board, in a meeting after consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs, has approved a resolution to this effect," Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, Chairman of the POEA Governing Board, said in a statement.
The resolution was signed by members of the board -- Hans Leo J. Cacdac, POEA Administrator and Governing Board Vice-Chair; and members Felix M. Oca; Estrelita S. Hizon; Alexander E. Asuncion; Milagros Isabel A. Cristobal.
Under Republic Act 10022, the POEA governing board is authorized, after consultation with the DFA, to impose a ban on the deployment of Filipino migrant workers in pursuit of national interest or when public welfare so requires.
Last week, the DFA raised crisis Alert Level 2 (restriction phase) in Bangkok, Nonthaburi Province; Lad Lum Kaew District (Pathumthani Province); and Bang Phli District (Samutprakan Province). This was in light of the Thai government's declaration of a 60-day state of emergency due to the escalating civil unrest in those areas.
"In view of this, the Governing Board decided to impose a temporary suspension on the processing and deployment of newly-hired OFWs bound for these areas in the Kingdom of Thailand," she said.
Under Crisis Alert Level 2, only the processing and deployment of returning OFWs with existing employment contracts shall be allowed and the processing and deployment of newly-hired OFWs shall be suspended.
"We strongly advise our OFWs in Thailand to be vigilant and avoid going out as much as possible, especially if they have nothing important to do outside. They should also stay alert and monitor the events in those areas. If they feel that their security and safety is compromised, they can always go to the Philippine Embassy,” Baldoz said.
Based on records, POEA said the annual deployment of OFWs to Thailand has declined from 9,204 in 2012 to 6,021 in 2013. Of the 6,021 OFWs deployed to Thailand last year, only 252 are new hires, while 5,769 are re-hires.
On Sunday, a Thai anti-government protest leader was shot and killed in Bangkok when violence erupted as demonstrators blocked early voting in many areas of the capital ahead of a disputed election next week.
It brought the death toll to 10, with scores wounded, since protesters took to the streets in November, vowing to shut down the capital and force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office.
The protests are the latest eruption in a political conflict that has gripped Thailand for eight years and is starting to hurt growth and investor confidence in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy.
The conflict broadly pits Bangkok's middle class and elite, and followers in the south, against mainly poor rural backers of Yingluck and her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, in the populous north and northeast. - With Reuters