PH signs new labor accord with UAE; to resume deployment of household workers on March 31

Marje Pelayo   •   March 4, 2021   •   645

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced the signing of the historic new labor accord between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) giving greater protection to Filipino household service workers.

Part of the agreement is the Philippine government’s resumption of deployment of household service workers to the Emirates starting March 31.

The Philippines stopped sending household service workers to UAE in 2014.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III hailed the agreement as a milestone in the government’s efforts to further protect Filipino overseas workers.

According to Philippine delegation head Undersecretary Claro Arellano, the new deployment will now be covered by a Unified Employment Contract with provisions similar to the standard employment contract being used in Kuwait.

The contract provides stringent measures to protect Filipino household workers pursuant to the directives of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Under the unified contract, both the employer and the Foreign Recruitment Agencies, and the Philippine Recruitment Agencies are bound by joint and solidary liability should anything happen to the Filipino workers.

The four-party contract, which becomes addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding on Labor Cooperation with Annex Protocol on Domestic Workers, incorporates the President’s instructions for specific provisions to ensure the safety and well-being of household workers as follows:

  1. The right of the domestic worker to take at least eight (8) continuous hours of sleep every night;
  2. The right of the domestic worker to take a break that is paid, outside the residence of the employer at least one (1) full day every week;
  3. The right of the domestic worker to keep his/her passport or identification documents and the employer is not allowed to hold them;
  4. The employer shall allow the domestic worker to have and use cellular phones and other communication devices and the employer is prohibited from confiscating them;
  5. Opening of bank account under the name of the domestic worker for payment of salary; and
  6. Allowing the domestic workers to cook her or his own food.

The agreement was signed during the two-day Joint Committee Meeting between countries held in Manila on Wednesday (March 3) with Saif Ahmed Alsuwaidi, undersecretary of Human Resources and Emiratisation representing the UAE.

Another significant achievement in the meeting is the agreement on the conversion of tourist/visit visa to working visa. 

As agreed, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) will be notified when a visit visa is converted to employment visa for a Filipino domestic worker.

The Philippines reiterated its position to deploy the workers through the legal channel.

Therefore, the conversion of tourist visa to working visa is not recommended since this may lead to illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons.

DOLE lifts suspension of OFW deployment to Israel

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday (July 14) lifted the suspension of deployment of Filipino workers to Israel.

DOLE issued a memorandum, stating that Filipino workers can be deployed to Israel effective immediately after an almost two-month ban.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the decision was based on the recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) due to the low-level incidents between the Israel Defense Force and Palestinian militant groups. This was after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in May.

On May 20, 2021, DOLE suspended the deployment of Filipino workers due to the tension between the Israel Defense Force and Palestine. AAC

DOLE mulls lifting suspension of OFW deployment in Israel

Marje Pelayo   •   July 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is considering lifting the temporary suspension of the deployment of Filipino workers to Israel.

According to DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, tensions in Israel seem to have subsided after its exchange of rockets with the Hamas terrorists.

But Bello said they will coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs first to confirm if sending overseas Filipino workers to Israel is now safe.

Bello said he already directed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to continue with the processing of the Overseas Employment Certificate of around 1,000 workers waiting for departure.

Most Filipinos working in Israel are caregivers and hotel workers, the DOLE said.

Bello wants board exam for nurses scrapped

Marje Pelayo   •   July 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III wants the board exam for newly graduated nurses to be scrapped.

Bello questioned why nurses need a board exam when they have gone through several examinations throughout the four years of their collegiate study, especially if their school is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

“Sabi ko napakamahal kumuha ng kursong nursing. Kukuha sila ng 4 years. After graduating kukuha sila ng board exam. Bakit pa kailangan ng board exam [kung] ilang exam ang dinaanan nila sa nursing.” Bello said.

“Sabi ko pagaralan nyo yan and then we can recommend to congress to tanggalin na yung exam exam na yan. Gastos sa ating mga nurses,” he added.

The Labor Chief asked the Philippine Nurses Association and the Board of Nursing to look into his argument though it may seem impossible.

“Syempre we respect his opinion but it needs to be studied. As of now, it cannot be done because we have an existing law that governs it. Personally, board exams serve as the check and balance for the quality of education we are producing in schools,” explained Philippine Nurses Association President Melbert Reyes.

“For nursing parang hindi possible iyan and also in other medical courses kasi buhay yung hinahawakan natin and we need to ensure that health professionals are competent enough to do their duties and responsibilities,” he added.

In July and September, about 9,000 nurses are scheduled to take the annual board exam.

Bello hopes all of them pass the examination as the country needs their services especially at this time of the pandemic.

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