The deployment of Filipino workers to Israel remains suspended, the country’s labor chief said on Wednesday.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd made the clarification despite the ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas last week.
“The problem is the conflict there. I cannot afford if one of our countrymen has been a victim. So we came up with the decision to suspend deployment,” he said in a virtual forum.
He added that they are continuously monitoring the situation in the host country.
“But there is no ban. There is suspension of the process of getting deployed. We continue to process them but they will not be deployed, we will observe first the situation in Israel especially in Gaza,” he added.
Gaza is currently placed under Alert Level 2, which means there is an automatic suspension of deployment of OFWs.
Bello also appealed for understanding of the 400 Filipinos who are supposed to leave for Israel this month who were affected by the deployment suspension.
“To our 400 fellow Filipinos, let’s just wait for a while. Your papers are being processed. When the situation is clear and safe then we will deploy you without further delay,” he said.
He added that majority of the OFWs are Israel-bound and only a few are going to Gaza.
“Give us two to three weeks. We have to be very sure that our OFWs are safe when they arrive there,” he said, when asked on the possible resumption of deployment of OFWs in the area.
Meanwhile, Bello reported that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the P5.2 billion additional fund for the repatriation of OFWs displaced by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Very good news. This is the best proof of how our president loves our OFWs. The Office of the President called me earlier and they told be that the recommendation of Secretary Wendell Avisado of PHP5.2 billion has been approved by President Rodrigo Duterte. Thank you, Mr. President, the OFWs, who are your favorite, will be happy because many more will benefit from this new allocation,” he said.
The program covers the repatriation, accommodation, food, and transportation of returning Filipinos who were affected by the pandemic.He reported that as of Wednesday, some 566,000 displaced OFWs have been sent back to their home provinces. SOVEREIGNPH