POEA reiterates only OFWs with multinationals can return to these 9 countries
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reminded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that the deployment ban to 9 countries experiencing conflict remains, and that only those working for multinational companies are allowed to re-enter them.
The agency made the clarification on Monday, December 14, after an advisory it issued last Friday caused confusion that even OFWs with multinationals would not be allowed to re-enter Afghanistan, Chad, Cuba, Haiti, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, and Zimbabwe if they came home to the Philippines during the holidays.
The one-paragraph Advisory Number 39, which was issued Friday, December 11, only said that the processing of documents for workers bound to these 9 conflict areas would be temporarily stopped. No exemptions were mentioned. (READ: What they don’t tell you about the OFW life)
"In light of the recent Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) of the Commission on Audit (COA), dated 23 November 2015, recommending that POEA discontinue the deployment of Filipino workers to countries identified as 'Non-Compliant' with the protection guarantees provided under the law, all operating units are hereby directed to temporarily hold the processing of documents of workers bound to the following 'non-compliant' countries until further advice," read the advisory.
"We shall just continue implementation of ban on restricted areas and exemption with regard to OFWs in multinational companies or companies with international operations,” Cacdac said.
“This was a case of an advisory we issued that had an unintended effect on concerned OFWs, so we [pulled] it out less than 24 hours since we posted it. I have been in email contact with OFW groups to clarify and assure them that they could take Christmas vacation to see their families,” he added.
Cacdac also said the POEA is discussing the findings of the audit observation memorandum with COA.
OFWs can come home
Emmanuel Geslani, who heads a migrant workers' group in Afghanistan, welcomed the cancellation of Advisory Number 39. He said “hundreds” of OFWs are employed at United States (US) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bases, and other international organizations in Afghanistan.
“The Samahang Pilipino in Afghanistan members led by Chairman Roberto Tabaloc expressed their thanks to POEA Administrator Atty Hans Cacdac for holding in abeyance the advisory which would have derailed the travel plans of their members for coming home to the country,” said Geslani in a statement. (READ: When OFWs come home)
"Filipinos also working for the remaining US/NATO bases in Afghanistan also were happy to receive the good news as some of their members were already stranded in Manila since last week due to the temporary suspension of their travel documents by the Balik Manggagawa section of the POEA," he added. – Rappler.com