MANILA - The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration will soon be sending some 400 Filipino caregivers to Israel, amid the violent conflict in Gaza Strip.
POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said there is no deployment ban on Israel, and the Israelis have given their word that the Filipinos will not be deployed in problem areas.
"Sila po ay pupunta sa residential na hindi po sila lalabas at sila ay secured. Patuloy na imo-monitor namin 'yan. Kung sakali may matangap kami sa OFWs natin na na-deploy at na-endanger ang kanilang safety, ay agaran namang ire-repatriate sila," he said Wednesday.
The deployment is part of a bilateral agreement between Israel and the Philippines involving at least 500 caregivers.
Olalia said Israel wants more Filipino caregivers, and it has actually reduced the educational requirements for those interested.
A minimum of two years in college was part of the earlier requirement. That has been lowered to a high school diploma, alongside the required caregiver training and certification.
Demand for Filipino caregivers has been strong, Olalia noted.
“Yung second batch natin, ang ating natanggap na abiso, tulad ng first batch, at least 500. 'Yun ang ating prino-proseso. Sa ngayon po, marami na tayong natangap na aplikante. Sa tingin ko, parang sa huling balita ko, mahigit 600 ang interested natin na caregiver na nais pumunta sa bansang Israel," he said.
If registration starts Thursday, the second batch of healthcare workers could be in Israel by July or August, Olalia said.
He clarified that caregivers will not be part of the 5,000 quota for overseas deployment of medical workers. The inter-agency task Force on COVID-19 had placed the quota starting January 2021 to regulate the overseas deployment of Filipino healthcare workers.
Filipino nurses were prevented from being deployed overseas last year, to make sure they stay home to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
Olalia said that even though caregivers are not included, the cap is quickly filling as over 3,000 nurses and other healthcare workers have already been deployed since the quota was implemented in January.
The POEA might recommend a higher quota soon.
"Itong datos, kailangan i-review natin. Para mabigyan natin ng kaukulang pansin ang ating pangangailangan dito, bago natin tugunan ang pangangailangan ng ibang bansa," Olalia said.
But still, demand for Filipino nurses abroad remains very high.
“Halos po lahat ng ating traditional destination markets for nurses ay nag-request. Nandiyan po ang UK, Germany, Japan, KSA - ito ang mga traditional markets natin. Dating nagre-recruit prior to the pandemic, ngayon nag-increase," said Olalia.
The POEA chief says the average monthly salary for caregiver jobs in Israel is about $1,500, or roughly P72,000.