ofws-lebanonWe admire the Lebanese consul for his and his country’s insistence that Lebanon is ‘safer as it was’. There is no denying that Filipinas (mostly) come in droves to Lebanon despite he so-called ban. But what is scary in Lebanon for domestic helpers, just like other Middle Countries, is not the threat of war but the abusive employers (plenty of them) and the type of immigration treatment accorded to OFWs. Their passports are taken and their salaries for 3 months are withheld. And it is already well-known that not al Lebanese families are psychologically ready to get and manage an expat domestic help.

The only reason why Pinays continue to go to Lebanon is that there is NO decent employment at home. This and the false promises of the illegal recruiter sends the hapless Pinay to Lebanon.

I remember when i came back to Nigeria via Doha. We met two young Pinays transiting thru Doha to Lebanon — holding what seems like Lebanese electronic visa.  We asked them how they managed to leave NAIA without getting checked by immigration, but they wouldn’t say.

The two girls said they were recruited by someone from their village who has connection with Lebanese recruiters. We asked if they are not afraid of the fact that they have no Lebanese visas. They said that there were plenty of other women from their village who have gone to Lebanon the same way they do. And so far, nobody among those ahead of them complained or got repatriated. They said that their recruiter have connections in Beirut airport and that their visas will be handled there.

Now, with this kind of pattern, it is clear that the danger to Pinays is not the threat of war, but the way the Lebanese recruiters are bringing Pinays to Lebanon. The fact that most Lebanese families are not really that well-prepared to pay for expat DH.

The Lebanese government has not even come up with any laws protecting the expat domestic workers. Until now, the practice of withholding 3 months salary to pay for the purported employer’s expense on the ticket and immigration, and the confiscation of passport, poses Lebanon as a risky country to allow innocent Pinays to come for work.

Just because the Filipinas there are more than willing to become DH doesn’t mean they are more than willing to be treated as slaves… If Lebanon as  a country cannot educate their citizens about the rights of the migrant workers or come up with laws protecting migrant workers, by all means, let the ban on the recruitment of DH remain.

And Consul Assad has not really mentioned anything about his countrymen’s attitude towards Asian domestic helpers, or his country’s efforts to provide protection to migrant workers. Just proud to say that more and more Pinays go there to work.

The Lebanese consul says the ban is counterproductive because it really has no effect on the continued arrival of undocumented Filipinas. But it is counterproductive only because of the fact that the Lebanese authorities are allowing this practice of illegally recruiting them and bring them to Lebanon. That means they are also abetting the abuses committed by their citizens on their Asian domestic helps.

Abuses, maltreatment, non-payment of wages, change in contracts or no-contract at all, confiscation of passports, threat of deportation – – these are the regular stories you will hear from those who finally cannot pretend that they went there for work.

That, for me, is the more compelling reason to declare Lebanon ‘risky’. It’s not the ‘war’, for Filipinos are no strangers to war in their homeland. It’s the culture, the attitude towards their migrant domestic helps that poses a far more risk to OFWs than any outbreak of war.

Sure, no problem, the allure of overseas work will continue. Not because Lebanon is a great place to work, but to repeat a million times the reason for our diaspora, there is not just enough jobs at home and life is really getting difficult for all of us.

The government agencies like BI, POEA and DFA should prosecute with severity those found to be sending innocent Filipinas to Lebanon without proper documentation.

<<For more readings about Lebanon OFWs, please click HERE.>>

—-

And here is Nigeria. The only troubled spot is on the Oil areas, and the DFA insists that the entire country is risky.

We hope that the Nigerian government will make a challenge to the Philippine’s continued imposition of this total travel and work ban.

—-
By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: December 05, 2008

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) The Philippines should lift its deployment ban to Lebanon and issue an amnesty to the 43,000 workers who left the Philippines illegally since the prohibition was imposed in 2006, the Lebanese consul in Manila said.

In a telephone interview Friday, Consul Joseph Assad said the ban “is counterproductive” because it has not stopped Filipinos from leaving the country.

The Philippine government imposed the prohibition in 2006, at the height of the Israel-Lebanon war. The government also repatriated thousands of workers from the Lebanon.

In 2006, there were around 5,200 Filipinos who went to Lebanon. In 2007, 16,140 sneaked out of the Philippines. January-November 2008 data from Lebanon showed 21,982 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Lebanon, Assad said. Most of the 43,300 workers entered Lebanon as domestic workers, he noted.

“Despite the ban, there’s about 43,000 workers who have entered Lebanon. This is really unfortunate because they are all in Lebanon as undocumented workers (in the eyes of Philippine authorities). I’m calling on the government, the Department of Foreign Affairs, to lift this ban. It’s not logical and it’s counterproductive,” he said.

Assad said Manila should revoke the ban so that undocumented workers, mostly women, can register with the Philippine Embassy in Beirut.

The Philippine government should also allow Filipinos to enter and work in Lebanon because the country is experiencing an economic boom since the war ended two years ago. Lebanon, Assad said, is also in need of nurses and construction workers.

Aside from lifting the ban, the Philippine government should also issue an amnesty to all the workers, employers, recruitment agencies, and immigration officials that defied the prohibition.

Assad said the workers and the people who brought them to Lebanon were responding to the hard times. Those who sneaked out of the country, he said, were just trying to earn money to feed their families.

“I would like them to give amnesty to all these girls, and OFWs, and the immigration officials who helped them and the employers who employed them. In these times of economic crisis, when they are all returning, the door is open in Lebanon. We have capability of producing 80,000 jobs a year in Lebanon,” he said.

Assad dismissed security fears in Lebanon. According to the embassy official, Lebanon “is safer than it ever was.”

Aside from Lebanon, the Philippine government has also imposed a deployment ban in the war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq, and in Nigeria.

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20081205-176336/Lebanon-urges-RP-to-lift-OFW-ban

Advertisements