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World | National

POEA allows deployment of OFWs to Iraq, Yemen, Eritrea

The government used to stamp this notice on all Philippine passports due to the high security risk of traveling to Iraq. FILE PHOTO
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has lifted the ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Iraq, Yemen, and Eritrea and will now allow OFWs who would like to work in these countries.

"The POEA Governing Board has issued three separate resolutions allowing the deployment of Filipino workers to Iraq, Yemen, and Eretria. The Department of Foreign Affairs has included Iraq in the list of compliant countries under Republic Act 10022, effectively lifting the five-year old ban to the said country," Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a news release.

Baldoz said that in its official communication dated 4 February 2013, the Philippine embassy in Baghdad has certified Iraq as compliant with the guarantees of the law.

The DFA, in its letter dated 06 February 2013, thus lowered the Crisis Alert Level in Iraq to Alert Level 1 (Precautionary Phase), with mandatory travel restriction to "no-go" zones to be determined by the host country.

Iraq has not given the Philippines a list of these "no-go" zones.

The POEA Governing Board resolution resumes the processing and deployment only of returning workers or balik-manggagawa, or rehires. Those for new hires will be allowed only after the Iraqi government submits a list of areas identified as “no-go" zones.

The lifting of the deployment ban in Iraq will initially affect some 500 OFWs working there until a new labor accord is reached between the two countries so that Iraq can hire the hundreds of thousands of workers needed to rebuild the country from years of war.

"However, the processing and deployment of new hires, except HSWs, shall resume upon the conclusion of a Bilateral Labor Agreement with Iraq and the identification of the restricted zones," she said.

She added: " I have instructed POEA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac to fast-track the guidelines on the resumption of deployment of OFWs to Iraq."

Citing unstable peace and order situation, the same Board suspended the processing and deployment of all workers bound for Iraq on 17 December 2007.

Yemen and Eritrea

In another resolution, the POEA board has allowed the deployment of newly-hired and returning OFWs bound for Yemen with the lowering of the DFA issued Alert Level in Yemen from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1 on 29 January 2013.

In February 2011, the POEA has deferred the processing and deployment of all OFWs bound for Yemen in view of the unstable political and security conditions in that country.

On the basis of the certification by the DFA dated 21 December 2012, the POEA Board has also included Eritrea in the list of countries compliant with the requirements of RA 10020 where the continued deployment of OFWs shall be allowed.

With the addition of Iraq and Eritrea, 189 countries and territories are now certified as compliant with the guarantees on the protection of the rights of foreign workers provided under Section 3 of RA 10022.