The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization focused on labor and migration issues, cautioned the Philippine government to brace itself for adverse reactions from any of the 41 countries cited as unsuitable for Filipino workers by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
The Center noted that though the executive branch had no choice but to implement the law (Section 3, Republic Act 10022), it would still have to defend its actions before irate members of the international community.
“In our bid to provide our overseas workers with information regarding destination countries, let us make sure that long-standing friendships with certain countries would not be harmed,” Susan Ople, president of the center, said. Ople said the Department of Foreign Affairs through its foreign posts must be prepared to defend the outcome of the POEA’s certification process.
The OFW advocate noted that this was the first time that the Philippines imposed a deployment ban on 41 countries in a single day. “Although these are minor job markets, certain countries like India are huge trading partners. Since we are imposing the ban, the least we could do is to explain the reasons behind it in a proper manner through diplomatic and trade channels,” the OFW advocate said.
According to data from the Department of Trade and Industry, total trade with India reached US$865.12 million in November 2010 and for the first time, passed the US$1 billion-mark as of the first quarter of 2011.
The Ople Center noted that the issuance of the POEA lists did not come with adequate information for OFWs and their families. It said that overseas job applicants should still be careful in accepting job offers to work in countries deemed compliant by the POEA. “For example, the Ivory Coast is listed as a compliant country and yet we know of trafficked victims held against their will in its red light district,” she pointed out.
The former labor undersecretary called on the POEA to put up a global hotline to respond to questions arising from the 41-country deployment ban.
Ople said that the recruitment industry and millions of OFWs are awaiting the next and final list that would include several Gulf countries with a high concentration of Filipino workers. “That would be a more contentious list. But ultimately, the law – unless amended – binds everyone to respect and uphold this certification process.” END