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Thursday, December 22, 2011

POEA Governing Board issues resolution lifting deployment ban of OFWs to Libya

The Governing Board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), yesterday issued Resolution No. 10 Series of 2011 lifting the ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Libya.

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, the Chairman of the Governing Board, said the resolution takes effect immediately and would allow the gradual re-deployment of returning workers in the medical and oil sectors only, subject to proof of existing employment as determined by the POEA.

"The lowering of the alert level, and consequently the lifting of the ban, will not cover the deployment to Libya of newly-hired OFWs," Baldoz emphasized.

"That will be determined at a future date and will be subject to further assessment to satisfy the government that enough guarantees exist to ensure the safety of our OFWs bound for Libya," she added.

The resolution was in response to the recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs, approved by President Benigno S. Aquino III on 20 December, lowering the alert level in Libya from Alert Level 4 (evacuation/mandatory repatriation) to Alert Level 2 (restriction phase), to reflect the current situation in the country.

It can be recalled that the POEA suspended the processing and deployment of OFWs bound for Libya on 22 February 2011 because of heightened political unrest in that country.

Last October, an inter-agency committee composed of the DFA, POEA, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration assessed the political and security situation in Libya and noted that are still security concerns which the Libyan government has to address for Libya to regain political instability.

The inter-agency committee noted that a significant number of Filipino workers who were repatriated during the height of the political crisis are clamoring to return to Libya and resume their work there. In addition, there are also workers who wish to spend their Christmas vacation in the Philippines, but with the assurance that they would be allowed to go back after their vacation.

To balance the security concerns with the clamor of the OFWs, the DFA has recommended to the President the lowering of the alert level in Libya; allow gradual deployment of returning workers in the medical and oil sectors only, subject to proof of existing employment, such as return to work letters from employers and appropriate visas, to be determined by the POEA; and allow the redeployment of returning workers from other sectors at a later time when the Philippine government is satisfied that there are enough safety guarantees for OFWs.

Secretary Baldoz said the resolution directs the POEA to immediately issue the guidelines for its implementation.