MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) clarified on Thursday that Taiwan has not implemented a freeze order on the hiring of Filipinos, but is only seeking additional documentary requirements to the visa application of incoming workers.
"These are additional requirements. It takes a little longer now to process a visa application," DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.
Some of the additional requirements, Baldoz said, are government issued identification cards, like the Social Security System ID, birth certificate from the National Statistics Office, and clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation, both authenticated by the DFA and the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO).
"So, from an original 7-day processing of visa application, it will now take a little longer which is an additional 7 days for a total of 14 days," she said.
Baldoz clarified that the additional requirements were not there before.
"These are additional requirements and so it's very clear, based on the information that we got from TECO, and these are available from their website, there is really no freeze on the hiring, but a slowdown in the processing of visa application," she said.
She said earlier media reports stated that the freezing on hiring of workers is one of the effects of the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman on Philippine waters.
"But it turned out, based on the clarification that I sought yesterday with the TECO in Manila, there is really no freeze," she said.
According to Baldoz, there are around 85,000 Filipinos in Taiwan, with 72 percent employed as production workers or those in the manufacturing industry; 26 percent personal services; and two percent working as fishermen.
"Ang advice po namin sa ating mga OFW at kanilang deployment agency ay mag comply lang po sa requirement at maghintay po ng 14 days na kinakailangang i-proseso ang application," she said.
Baldoz said that on a yearly basis, data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration show that there 41,461 documented Filipino workers.
"This would be around 2,900 on a monthly deployment," she said.
On the issue of harassment and attacks allegedly experienced by Filipinos in Taiwan, Baldoz said it's better to have the reports documented.
"We advise them to remain calm, remain focused, giving their best to their jobs as issues related to this are being attended by our government and so they should show more tolerance and patience just in case there are some provocations," she said.
She added that the Manila Economic and Cultural Office and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Taiwan will assist Filipinos who may be affected by the tension.
"Importante na may documentation. May affidavit sila dini-detalye kung ano ang pangyayari, sino ang involved at palagay ko kung napakaliwanag ng insidente makakahingi naman tayo ng kaukulang investigation sa competent authority ng Taiwan," she said.