Philippine Workers Banned from 41 Countries, Including Lebanon
The Philippines said Wednesday it had banned Filipinos from travelling to work in 41 countries and territories, including Lebanon, that had allegedly failed to provide enough safeguards to protect them from abuse.
The Department of Labor and Employment in a board resolution posted on its website said the blacklisted countries failed to sign international conventions protecting foreign workers.
Neither have these countries signed agreements with the Philippines "on the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers," the resolution said.
They also do not have their own laws protecting foreign workers, it added.
Included in the list are Lebanon, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Chad and Pakistan.
Carlos Cao, head of the government's overseas employment agency, said the 41 countries did not receive too many Filipino workers so a ban would not have a very large effect.
"These are the smaller countries with small markets. The negative impact is not going to be very big," he told Agence France Presse.
The ban will also not affect Filipino workers who are already in those countries so they will not have to come home until their contracts expire, Cao added.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the law also exempts international companies and U.S. military facilities that might be operating in these countries.
As many as 8,000 Filipinos worked in U.S. military bases in Iraq and about 5,000 Filipinos worked in bases in Afghanistan, officials previously said.
Garry Martinez, chairman of Migrante, an activist group for overseas workers, said that the ban might just lead to more Filipinos going to work illegally in these 41 countries.
He said the government should actually investigate cases of abuse rather than setting up loose criteria for a ban.
There are an estimated nine million Filipino overseas workers, or about 10 percent of the country's population, official statistics show.
Many of them work as maids, laborers or seamen in areas where they are vulnerable to abuse although many Filipinos also work in higher positions in Western nations.
Their dollar remittances have traditionally kept the Philippine economy afloat, although reports of abuse are common.
While Manila has in the past banned deployment to some areas locked in conflict, many Filipinos still leave through illegal means rather than take low-paying jobs at home.