From the Department of Labor and Employment
Secretary of Labor and Employment Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday announced that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board (GB) has ordered a total ban on the processing and deployment of all returning/vacationing overseas Filipino workers bound for Afghanistan, following the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) issuance of Crisis Alert Level 3 (Voluntary Repatriation Phase) for Afghanistan, which has been experiencing tension following the conduct of the Presidential Elections held last 14 June 2014.
Governing Board Resolution No. 15, Series of 2014, was signed by DOLE Secretary and POEA GB Chairman Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, POEA Administrator and Vice-Chair of the Governing Board Hans Leo J. Cacdac, and members Felix M. Oca, Estrelita S. Hizon, Alexander E. Asuncion, and Milagros Isabel A. Cristobal.
The deployment ban on new hires for Afghanistan provided under Governing Board Resolution No. 8 issued on 17 December 2007 is still in effect.
In a letter to Baldoz, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert E. Del Rosario stated that Alert Level 3 is issued when violent disturbances or external aggression occur in a limited area.
“Filipinos are enjoined to return to the country. However, the cost of repatriation must be borne by their respective companies,” Secretary Del Rosario stated in his letter.
The Philippine Embassy in Islamabad estimated that there are around 5,250 Filipinos in Afghanistan mostly working for US contractors. POEA records in 2013 reveal that they are mostly composed of production supervisor and general foremen, production workers, machine fitters and assemblers, stock clerks, engineers, transport equipment operators, electrical wiremen and electrical and electronics engineering technicians.
Despite incidents of violence, the Presidential Elections of Afghanistan pushed through on June 14, 2014 with around 7 million people voting. There were reportedly 150 attacks which killed 10 Afghan soldiers, 14 civilians, and 19 insurgents and injured many more.
Baldoz said that OFW-repatriates who expressed preference to go back overseas in countries other than their original deployment destination can avail of the government’s employment facilitation service provided by the POEA’s Manpower Registry Division, located at the ground floor of the POEA Building and headed by officer-in-charge Cora Orticio. They can be reached through telephone numbers (02) 722-1172; 722-1176; and 722-9497.
She further said that the POEA’s manpower registry division will provide the information on POEA-approved job orders, countries of destination, licensed recruitment agencies, job position, and salaries so that the OFWs can compare and choose which countries they would like to work again in a similar position with more or less similar pay and other benefits.
She added that administrator Cacdac is also setting up a desk at the POEA with a staff complement to provide re-employment facilitation services, as well as relevant information, to repatriates.
“I have instructed Administrator Cacdac to disclose all relevant market information to the public every time the POEA issues a ban on deployment so that OFW returnees can make wise and rational decisions about their plans. These labor market information includes occupations, skills, and wages in the country and in alternative destinations for those seeking employment or re-employment, as well as employment prospects or labor market analysis that includes information on deployment process and cost, visa information, and market players, or local and foreign placement agencies,” said Baldoz.
OFW-repatriates with money claims and other legal problems are attended to by the legal assistance division (LAD) under the Anti-Illegal Recruitment Branch headed by Atty. Rose Duquez. The LAD is located at the fourth floor of the POEA Building along Ortigas Avenue in Mandaluyong City and can be reached through telephone numbers (02) 722-1189.