POEA allows deployment of OFWs to Iraq, 2 other countries

A March 5, 2013, press release from the Department of Labor and Employment

Secretary of Labor and Employment Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday announced that the Governing Board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), which she chairs, has lifted the ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Iraq, Yemen, and Eretria and will now allow to leave 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,” Baldoz said in a press statement.

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

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in its letter dated February 6, 2013, has 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.

Baldoz said the POEA Governing Board has agreed to lift the deployment ban on Iraq and resume the processing and deployment of returning workers or balik-manggagawa, or rehires, upon the submission of list of areas identified as “no-go” zones by the Iraqi government.

“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.

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 January 29, 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 December 21, 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.