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Gov’t lifts work ban in Iraq

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz

MANILA, Philippines - The government has lifted the ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Iraq, but the ban stays for domestic helpers.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz yesterday said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) governing board has approved a resolution allowing the deployment of new workers to Iraq.

“Under the resolution, the POEA will now resume processing and deployment of new hire workers to Iraq, except in areas identified as no-go zones,” Baldoz said.

She, however, added that the POEA board excluded Filipino household service workers from the lifting of the ban.

“Household service workers are still not allowed because they are vulnerable and we are also trying to limit their hiring,” Baldoz said.

The POEA imposed a total deployment ban to Iraq in February 2012 upon the recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) amid violence in the country.

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But last February, the Philippine embassy in Baghdad certified Iraq as compliant with the provisions of the Amended Migrants Workers Act.

The crisis alert level in the country was also lowered, prompting the government to allow the deployment of returning workers but with mandatory travel restrictions to identified no-go zones.

The no-go zones are the provinces of Anbar, Ninewah, Nineveh, Kirkuk and Salahuddin.

The labor chief said they expect the hiring of more construction and medical workers in Iraq following the full lifting of the deployment ban.

She said the Iraqi government has expressed desire to hire more Filipino professionals for the rehabilitation of Iraqi industries and facilities.

Meanwhile, a group of OFWs questioned the real intent of a proposal for the creation of a department of overseas workers.

Migrante said the bill was apparently meant to corner the P15-billion trust fund of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and not to help OFWs.

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