Both RP, Lebanon to benefit from lifting of deployment ban, says consul  18/04/2009

MANILA, Philippines - Both the Philippines and Lebanon will benefit from Manila’s decision to resume deployment on Filipino workers to the Mideastern country, the Lebanese consul to the Philippines said.

“Everybody benefits from the lifting of the ban. It’s a win-win situation," Honorary Consul Joseph Assad told GMANews.TV in an e-mail.

The Philippines stopped sending workers to Lebanon in July 2006 due to the unstable security situation there, but many Filipinos have reportedly still been entering illegally.

Last week, Malacañang ordered that the ban be lifted, with the exact date to be decided by the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

With this, Assad said Filipinos will once again be able to work in Lebanon legally.

“Lebanon is the prime destination for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the Arab world," he said.

In fact, he said, Filipino workers might even benefit from the unexpected economic boom that their country is reportedly experiencing.

“Lebanon has been spared somehow the economic crisis that is befalling the rest of the world," said the consul.

In addition, Lebanese employers will also finally be able to take advantage of the skills of Filipino workers.

“The Lebanese also benefit because now they have the choice to employ [workers like] Filipina domestic helpers. OFWs are a valuable asset to Lebanon," he said.

This, Assad said, might have prompted President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to order the lifting of the ban.

“Jobs are precious these days with so many returning to the Philippines from around the globe after being laid off their jobs. We have to counter this flow by finding new jobs in and out of the country," he said.

But John Leonard Monterona of Migrante-Middle East told GMANews.TV that the lifting of the ban will only produce more Filipino victims of abuse, maltreatment, and labor malpractice.

“The lifting of the ban without clear labor agreements holding the employers responsible to its hired workers would only produce more run away and distress OFWs seeking refuge."

The DFA, however, has cited some progress in the conclusion of a bilateral labor cooperation agreement that will ensure the protection of the welfare of Filipino workers, specifically minimum wage, reasonable rest periods, and decent working and living conditions in the Mideast country.

Assad also assured the migrant groups, especially the Filipino workers, that Lebanon is now a safe country.

“Lebanon is safe. Secretary Romulo saw that firsthand in his recent trip to Lebanon and Syria," he said.

The consul said that it has been this way since the ceasefire was signed in August 2006. - GMANews.TV