'Afghanistan ban' violators face sanctions - Binay

By Sheryll Mundo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 21 2010 06:36 PM | Updated as of Oct 22 2010 02:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Vice-President Jejomar Binay is looking at imposing sanctions against overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and recruiters who violate the employment ban in Afghanistan. 

Binay, the Presidential adviser on OFW concerns, expressed alarm Thursday over the continued entry of Filipinos in Afghanistan despite the employment ban. 

"Buhay nila ang nakataya. We are concerned with that, kung hindi nabibigyan ng sufficient na penalty di napipigilan gawa ng gawa ng hindi tama," he said.

He is also looking at blacklisting recruitment agencies who are facilitating the entry of Filipinos in Afghanistan.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Esteban Conejos, who is supporting Binay's proposal, said Filipinos must be responsible for their actions. 

Conejos, however, said cancelling the passports of OFWs proven to have violated the ban would be difficult as under the Foreign Service Act of 1991 that includes the passport law, the right to travel is guaranteed by the constitution and there are specific reasons why a person's passport can be cancelled. 

He said it might be up to Congress to pass a law that would address the problem.

Conejos said the DFA plans to send a mission to Afghanistan to find out if there is a security threat against Filipinos working under the US military bases. 

If there is no threat, the Filipinos there would be allowed to finish their contracts and be immediately repatriated once these expire. 

This is similar to what the DFA did in Iraq where there is also an existing ban. 

The government allowed Filipinos working for companies contracted by US military bases to stay and finish their contract only until next year as the war in Iraq is already winding down.

"We might have to do a similar thing for Aghanistan. Ngayon na nagwind-down military operations sa Iraq, lipat naman sila sa Afghanistan so we have to address the problem. In spite of the ban, there are some who continue to go find a way to go there," Conejos said.