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Nation

Resumption of OFW deployment to Taiwan pushed

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) has reiterated its request to the Taiwanese government to reopen its borders to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were “stranded” in the Philippines because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement on Friday, MECO said its chairman and resident representative Wilfredo Fernandez brought up the matter during his recent meeting with Taiwan’s Labor Minister Hsu Ming-Chun.

Some 5,000 OFWs were reportedly affected when Taiwan decided to defer the entry of migrant workers in May 2021 due to the pandemic.

Barring any new COVID-19 surge, Philippine labor attaché Cesar Chavez Jr. earlier said that Taiwan may reopen its doors to OFWs after the celebration of the 2022 Lunar New Year as more quarantine facilities become available.

According to MECO, Fernandez and Hsu also discussed the issue of pay parity among OFWs, with the Philippine official suggesting making the salaries of Filipino household workers at par with factory workers.

Fernandez said Hsu took note of the suggestion and vowed to discuss the matter with concerned officials.

During the meeting, the labor minister cited the immense contribution of Filipinos to Taiwan’s economic development, describing the Philippines as an important international partner.

She also noted their continuing review of their labor rules to protect migrant workers’ rights, including those of the Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Fernandez reiterated his strong objection to exorbitant fees that recruitment agencies charge OFWs, saying this matter could be addressed through simplified recruitment processes and better collaboration between the Philippine and Taiwanese governments.

Earlier reports said that OFWs seeking to work in Taiwan have to shell as much as P200,000 in placement fees, an amount that Fernandez has decried as “criminal.”

He maintained that Philippine recruitment agencies should shoulder all pandemic-related fees, in line with a circular issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in January 2021.

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