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Ban in sending DH to Jordan lifted
« on: April 08, 2008, 06:23:10 AM »
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government has reportedly decided to lift the ban in the deployment of domestic helpers to Jordan on condition that work contracts would have to be approved by the embassy and the Filipinos would receive a minimum monthly salary of $400.

Amjad Weshah, director of recruitment of the Jordan labor ministry, made the announcement in Jordan on Sunday, according to a report in The Jordan Times.

The Jordanian official said he learned about the Philippine government’s decision from Ambassador Julius Torres when they met on Wednesday at the embassy.

But acting Labor Secretary Marianito Roque denied the report.

“I have not signed any decision yet to lift it," Roque said in a telephone interview Monday.

Besides, he said removing the deployment ban to Jordan “is not even in the agenda with POEA" (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration).

Claro Cristobal, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said it is establishing contact with the Philippine embassy in Jordan to confirm it.

Last January 21, the Philippine government imposed an indefinite ban in the deployment of new workers to Jordan after about 120 to 150 OFWs, mostly household helpers, sought refuge at the embassy when they fled from their employers because of alleged abuses, including rape and non-payment of wages.

The deployment ban only covers the new hires, and not returning workers who don’t have problems with their employers.

In 1990, the Philippines also imposed a deployment ban to Jordan due to high cases of maltreatment and exploitation committed by Jordanian employers.

However, in 2005, the labor department ordered the lifting of the ban with the opening of a Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Amman and the implementation of a “special work contract" which provides liberal welfare provisions to foreign household service workers.

Jordanian officials have consistently denied claims of abuse of Filipino workers. "The issue had nothing do with abuse claims. It was about a number of domestic helpers, who had problems related to their residency, and we tried to help them return to their country," according to Weshah.

Through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the government raised in December 2006 the minimum salary of domestic helpers, or household service workers, to $400, from $200, and required language proficiency and skills training and assessment on workers prior to deployment.

The Jordanian labor official said 45 Filipino domestic helpers had since been sent back to the Philippines after settling their financial claims from their employers.

According to the report, a joint committee formed to identify and solve the problems on the recruitment of the Filipinos to Jordan had addressed most of the workers’ grievances, which were primarily against their employers for delayed or non-payment of salaries, accumulated work permits and residency fines.

The Jordan interior ministry had exempted at least 140 Filipinos from the payment of fines, and 75 of this batch have returned to work, and 60 are set for repatriation to the Philippines, the report said.

The number of Filipino domestic helpers in Jordan has been estimated at 15, 000. -

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