DOLE lifts deployment ban to Lebanon, Jordan

By Mayen Jaymalin, The Philippine Star

Posted at Oct 23 2012 07:39 AM | Updated as of Oct 23 2012 09:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino workers in Lebanon and Jordan can finally return home and celebrate Christmas with their families without having to worry about losing their jobs after the Philippine government lifted the deployment ban in the two countries.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued yesterday a resolution allowing the deployment of Filipino workers to Jordan and Lebanon.

“The POEA governing board has agreed to lift the temporary suspension of deployment of newly hired household service workers (HSWs) for the Kingdom of Jordan,” Baldoz said.

“This means the deployment ban to Jordan is now 100 percent lifted and our workers there can now return home, and we can also send newly hired workers there,” Baldoz said.

Citing data from the POEA, Baldoz said the country deployed close to 6,000 Filipino HSWs to Jordan from 2006 to 2011.

“From over 4,000 HSWs deployed to Jordan in 2006, the number dropped to only one in 2011 because of the ban,” she noted.

Several years ago, the Philippine government banned the deployment of HSWs to Jordan due to high incidence of abuse against Filipino workers.

Thousands of HSWs, however, defied the ban and sneaked into Jordan. Of the more than 23,000 Filipino workers, around 90 percent are undocumented.

The ban had prevented a majority of the Filipino HSWs from taking a vacation in the Philippines for fear they would not be able to return to their jobs.

Baldoz, however, clarified that the POEA governing board has only partially lifted the deployment ban in Lebanon, allowing only returning workers and not newly hired HSWs.

“The POEA decided on partial lifting in Lebanon because we are still awaiting the completion of the negotiation for a new standard employment contract for HSWs,” she explained.

“But at least, our workers legally deployed before the ban took effect several years ago can now go home for a vacation,” she added.

The labor chief said the POEA would also allow the return of OFWs who managed to secure from Lebanese employers a contract that complies with the Philippine reform package for HSWs.

“As long as their employment contracts comply with the our reform package which provides for a minimum monthly salary of $400, we will be allowing them to return to Lebanon. But the treatment for undocumented workers or those without contracts would be different,” she said.

Baldoz said at present, there are about 25,000 documented Filipino HSWs working in Lebanon. Of the number, about 13,000 are expected to return home for the Christmas season.

The Philippine government banned the deployment of workers to Lebanon several years ago due to prevailing hostilities there.