This is in reference to the continued ban of Overseas Filipino
Workers (OFW) to Nigeria .

Late last year, the Philippine government declared a total ban of
workers going to Nigeria on the account of the successive kidnapping
incidents in Nigeria ‘s oil areas which involve OFWs. The action may
have been justifiable at that point. The ban affected not only New
Hires but vacationing OFWs as well, even those OFWs who are working
in Lagos and non-oil areas.

Early in 2007, upon the strength of the petition of some expatriate
companies in Nigeria , the OFW association in Nigeria and endorsement
of the Philippine Embassy, the Total Ban was scaled-down to Partial
Ban, allowing only the vacationing OFWs with valid work visa to
return to Nigeria .

After the resolution of the kidnapping issue, which involved not only
Filipinos but other nationals as well, the Philippine government
still maintained the ban on New Hire.

Recently, returning OFWs to Nigeria found themselves barred by
Immigration and POEA officials at the NAIA because they were told a
total ban is in effect. An unnamed official at the Abuja Philippine
Embassy said the embassy is not aware of any memo about a total ban.
We heard that it was the DFA Secretary, no less, who asked for Total
Ban on the day an abducted Filipino was released.

By declaring a ban on Nigeria on issue of security of the country,
the Philippine government is no less insulting the capabilities of
the host country to maintain its internal peace and order. The
present administration of His Excellency President Yaradua is doing
huge effort to secure the oil areas and guaranty the safety of all
expatriate workers.

The OFWs themselves in the oil-areas have sent numerous letters to
the Philippine embassy assuring the embassy that they feel safe with
the present security efforts implemented in their workplace.

One thing is certain in our minds, the kidnapping incidents in
specific areas of Nigeria is not a mirror of the entire country’s
state of security.

We assure the government and our loved ones that Nigeria is a decent
and relatively safe country to work and stay.

In fact, it baffles us why only the Philippines impose a ban, where
other countries only gave caution or warning to their citizens
working alongside Filipinos.

The recent news about DOLE and DFA calling for Filipinos in Nigeria
to come home shows just how the DFA and POEA handles the OFWs
situation – by knee-jerk reaction and `play-safe’ policy.

We, the OFWs in Nigeria , believe that the imposition of a ban is not
and never the solution to this issue of kidnapping, which for the
record, also involved other nationalities. The continued ban is just
hurting every Filipinos’ chances of getting a decent work and a
chance to contribute to the Philippine economy.

We oppose the new plan of the DFA to impose, yet again, a total ban
to Nigeria , despite the recommendation of the Philippine Embassy
here to lift the ban. We will avail ourselves of all means possible
to get the attention of the government to have the ban to Nigeria
lifted the soonest.

We also strongly request that the DFA open and maintain a Consular
Office in Lagos , considering that Lagos is the entry and jump-off
point of incoming OFWs.

For a reality check, we invite Vice-President Noli de Castro, DFA
USec Conejos, DOLE Sec Brion and POEA Administrator Baldoz to come
and visit Lagos and have a dialogue with the OFWs here so they will
know the real situation and sentiments of the Nigeria OFWs —
sentiments and information that may have not been made available
through government official channel.

PLEASE PASS THIS TO YOUR GOVERNORS, CONGRESSMEN, AND SENATORS. IF YOU
CONTACTS WITH MALACANANG, SEND THIS ALSO.

IF POEA WILL NOT ACT ON THIS, SEND TO MEDIA LIKE MON TULFO OR OTHER
INVESTIGATIVE SHOWS TO INVESTIGATE POEA.

BELOW ARE THE NUMBERS YOU CAN CALL OR EMAIL YOU CAN FORWARD THIS.

009 632 834 4000
Department of Foreign Affairs, Manila , which will be connected to
Undersecretary Conejos (Office of Midle Eastern & Africa Affairs).
===
009 632 552 6693 // 009 632 552 6601 to 80 Local 5561 / 5562 / 5563
Senator Santiago’s office
===
009 632 724 3665 // 009 632 772 1159
Mrs. ROSALINDA BALDOS, Administrator ng Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration (POEA).
===
Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada
Senate Office:
Rm. 602 6th Flr., GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Roxas Blvd., Pasay
City
Trunk Lines: (632) 552-6601 to 80 loc. 2521 / 2523 / 2525
Telefax Nos.: (632) 552-6686 / (632) 552-6685
Email: senjinggoyestrada@senate.gov.ph
====
Senator Loren B. Legarda
Senate Office:
Rm. 209 2nd Flr., GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Roxas Blvd., Pasay
City
Trunk Lines: (632) 552-6601 to 80 loc. 5537 / 5538 / 5539
Email: loren_b_legarda@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.lorenlegarda.com.ph
===
Office of the Vice President
Hon. Noli “Kabayan” de Castro
vp@ovp.gov.ph
Office of the Chief of Staff
Atty. Jesse H. T. Andres
cos@ovp.gov.ph
551-3897 / 831-2616
831-2618
Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff
Atty. Raul M. Luna
dcos@ovp.gov.ph
891-8701 / 831-6572
891-8701
Media Afffairs Division (MAD)
Ms. Ronadale M. Zapata
media@ovp.gov.ph
833-2148 / 833-4507
========

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