OFW ban on 41 countries deferred

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 08 2011 11:51 PM | Updated as of Nov 10 2011 01:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines – A ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to 41 countries will not push through for now, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official said Tuesday.

The DFA withdrew the negative certifications on the 41 countries that was the basis of the planned ban.

“This deferment will give us time to revisit the 41 countries so that we can move forward,” said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Raul Hernandez.

The DFA was tasked to list down countries that failed to provide adequate protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) under the amended Migrant Workers Act.

The countries include Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, Chad, Croatia, Cuba, North Korea, Dominica, East Timor/Timor Leste, Eritrea, Haiti, India, Iraq, Kyrgzstan/Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Montenegro, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Palestine, Serbia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turks and Caicos, Tuvalu, US Virgin Islands, Vanuatu and Zimbabwe.

The planned ban earned widespread criticism from OFW groups. The DFA itself said it could have adverse effects on OFWs.

The deferment was lauded by various sectors that have been urging the DFA to withdraw the negative certifications.

“Walang problema doon sa batas, pero ang nagkaproblema doon sa implementasyon,” said Valenzuela 1st District Representative Rex Gatchalian, one of the principal sponsors of the Amendatory Law on Magna Carta for Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos.

Several countries on the list, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Lesotho, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Cambodia, Serbia and Montenegro, uphold the rights of migrant workers.

“Nakikita ko rito ay opportunidad para mag-dialogue tayo, DFA, POEA, ‘yung stakeholders, legislators. Iisa lang naman ang adhikain ng lahat eh, ang ma-proteksyonan ang mga OFWs,” said Susan Ople of the Ople Labor Center.

Former Department of Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, for his part, said that “we have to strengthen our diplomatic relations in the countries we have many Filipino workers, upang sa ganoon makita ng mga bansa na iyon na tayo ay talagang interesado na bigyan ng proteksyon an gating mga manggagawa.”

The DFA is now planning to revise the list and hold a dialogue with the officials of countries that will be affected. -- Reports from ANC; Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News