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Philippines suspends deployment of household workers to UAE
Publication Date : 24-06-2014
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) will temporarily stop the processing of Filipino household service workers’ (HSW) contracts for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following a new contract policy implemented by the latter, suspending contract verification of HSWs.
In a briefing on Monday, Philippine Labour Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that without the verification of contracts, which has always been a requirement under Philippine laws, the POEA would not process documented workers bound for the UAE.
In the meantime, the POEA governing board has lifted the ban on the processing and deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Thailand, both vacationing and new hires, after the Department of Foreign Affairs lowered the crisis alert level from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1.
“The suspension of the verification of contracts of household service workers by the UAE is unfortunate. In this instance, the POEA will stop the processing of HSWs contracts for the UAE, like what it did when Saudi Arabia unilaterally suspended contract verification for HSWs,” said Baldoz.
“I have directed the POEA to do the same with contracts of HSWs intending to work in the UAE that are not verified,” she said.
But she expressed confidence that the UAE and the Philippines would reach a “mutually beneficial agreement” on the employment of household service workers as the latter did with Saudi Arabia.
Baldoz made the statement after local recruitment agencies decided to stop sending Filipino HSWs to the UAE starting next month to show opposition to the new contract policy.
The labour chief stressed that contract verification has always been a requirement under Philippine laws and the rules and regulations on overseas employment, which were being strictly applied to all countries of destination of overseas Filipino workers, including the UAE.
Baldoz added that without the necessary verification, HSWs bound for the UAE, might fall prey to human traffickers. “I am concerned that without the requisite verification, HSWs who will travel to UAE will be vulnerable to human trafficking, which we must avoid at all cost,” she said.
To prevent this, the laboUr chief said the POEA would work closely with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) to ensure that OFWs intending to work in the UAE as domestic helpers through modes of entry other than the regular work visa would not fall victim to human trafficking.
“The POEA and the BI should work together to strictly screen workers going to UAE on visit visas. The POEA will work with the IACAT and use its memorandum of agreements with various LGUs to launch a massive information dissemination on the deployment of HSWs to UAE,” she said.
As for the lifting of the temporary ban on deployment to Thailand, Baldoz cited observation by the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok that the situation there has “returned mostly to normal” despite the martial law declared by the Thai Army.