Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may soon be able to return to Lebanon, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said Tuesday.POEA administrator Carlos Cao Jr. disclosed in a phone interview Tuesday that the Philippine government is set to sign a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Lebanon next month, which may allow OFWs to go back to the Middle East country.
“The agreement will serve as a
bilateral agreement, which will allow Lebanon to comply with the requirements under Republic Act 10022,” Cao said.
Under RA 10022, the government must assure there are labor laws, bilateral agreements, ratified conventions or other concrete measures to protect the rights of OFWs in countries, where they are being deployed.
Non-compliant countries like Lebanon will be then issued a deployment ban.
However, Cao said the MoU will not lead to the immediate lifting of the deployment ban since the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will still have to conduct a separate security assessment of the areas where the OFWs will be deployed.
The Philippine government earlier issued a deployment ban to Lebanon in 2006 due to the escalating tension between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.
Coalition of Licensed Agencies for Domestic and Service Workers (CLAD) President Estrelita Hizon welcomed this development, saying this will allow OFWs to legally enter Lebanon and participate in its growing labor market.
She said since the ban took effect five years ago at least 30,000 undocumented household service workers were still able to enter and work in the Middle East country.
“The lifting of the ban augurs well for our OFWs since they will now be protected and covered with welfare benefits by the POEA and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA),” Hizon said.
Meanwhile, the government is also mulling on issuing a partial deployment ban to Libya, which will last beyond the Christmas season.
Labor Undersecretary Danilo Cruz said in a separate interview that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has already submitted a report to the Office of the President, recommending the reduction of its security alert level.
This will then allow the POEA to deploy returning OFWs back to the North African country.
“This will lower the alert level for Lebanon and allow OFWs to return even beyond the Christmas season,” Cruz said.