MANILA — The Philippines will sign new bilateral labor deals with Germany and the United Kingdom, which will pave the way for the deployment of more Filipino workers to these European countries, an official said Thursday.
“Alam n'yo po sa ngayon... si [Labor] Secretary Bebot Bello ay nasa ibang bansa. Patungo po siya ng Germany para po magkapirmahan doon sa ating BLA o bilateral labor agreement,” Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Bernard Olalia said.
(Secretary Bebot Bello is now abroad. He's going to Germany to sign the BLA or bilateral labor agreement.)
The labor agreement with Germany will cover Filipino health professionals and workers from 31 other sectors, according to a news release by the labor department.
It said pilot sectors include hotel service, electrical engineering and mechanics, sanitation, heating and air conditioning, and child care.
"Maliban po sa Germany, nandiyan din po ang UK na nangangailangan ng napakarami pong health workers," Olalia said in a public briefing.
(Aside from Germany, the UK also needs many health workers.)
He said skilled Filipino workers were also in demand in Romania, Croatia, and Hungary.
In Asia, Olalia said Taiwan and South Korea have already started accepting factory workers.
(We have started to deploy workers after a delay.)
New Zealand and Australia are also accepting skilled workers, he said.
The official also noted that the Philippines recently signed a labor agreement for the deployment of hotel workers to Israel.
"Kung maalala po ninyo, ito po iyong mga OFWs natin na naantala ang deployment noong 2020 noong kasagsagan ng ating pandemya. Nagkaroon po tayo ng ugnayan sa Israel... at tayo po iyong kauna-unahang foreign workers na binigyan ng opportunity para magpadala ng hotel keepers sa Israel," Olalia said.
(If you could remember, these are our OFWs whose deployment in 2020 was delayed during the height of our pandemic. We coordinated with Israel and we are the first to be given an opportunity to send foreign hotel keepers.)
Aside from hotel workers, the Philippines has also deployed some 2,000 caregivers to Israel, while 2,600 more already have signed contracts and are just waiting for their actual deployment dates, he said.
There were some 2.2 million overseas Filipino workers in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the figure down to around 1.71 million in 2020, according to government data.
Despite the economic slowdown that the pandemic caused, OFWs still managed to send home around P134.7 billion from April to September 2020 alone, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.