Migrante International lauds Taiwan’s decision to welcome back OFWs

Urges PH government to shoulder fees and dismantle recruiters’ broker system

A Filipino migrant group welcomed Taiwan’s decision to start allowing several thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) into the island after eight months of prohibition due to surging Covid-19 cases last year.

Migrante International said many OFWs waiting to fly back to the island may now heave a sigh of relief knowing they are now allowed to fly to Taiwan starting February 15.

Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) of Taiwan announced on Monday, February 7, it will welcome migrant workers from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand to enter Taiwan beginning next Tuesday as part of island’s special program gradually allowing more foreign workers into the territory.

Taiwan will however require foreign workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the country of origin before their entry into Taiwan.

“After foreign workers arrive in Taiwan, their employers can arrange for them to stay at a quarantine hotel to complete quarantine and self-health management; both foreign workers and employers must abide by related epidemic prevention rules and guideline,” the CECC said.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) likewise welcomed the development and expressed gratitude to Taiwan.

“We thank Taiwan for welcoming once more our compatriots in their various employment industries starting February 15,” DOLE secretary Silvestre Bello III said Tuesday.

Migrante International however asked the Philippine government to make it easier for outbound OFWs to return to their jobs abroad and do away with unnecessary requirements.

“While we recognize the importance of health requirements and protocols, we are very concerned that such health requirements will again bleed dry our OFWs. They have suffered too much from this pandemic for delaying their livelihood and now they will be burdened by long list of fees,” the group said.

The group urged the government to shoulder outbound OFWs PCR test fee, medical test fee, Bureau of Quarantine certificate and other expenses related to quarantine.

‘Exploitative broker system’

Migrante International also revealed it received reports from stranded OFWs that their employment agencies require another round of payments for the processing of their overseas applications under the so-called broker system.

These payments include multiple medical examinations at least every three months, training fees, yellow card, visa renewal, PCR test, BOQ, OEC as well as PhilHealth, Pag-ibig, SSS and other mandatory contributions, the group said.

“Deprived of the promised government ayuda (assistance), they are buried in debt in order to pursue their only hope to work abroad in order to meet the economic needs of their families,” Migrante Internation added.

The government must dismantle the so-called broker system of local recruitment agencies in Taiwan that controls the living and working conditions of OFWs and charge OFWs with several fees ranging from NT$60K to NT$200K per working contract from day one up to the time they depart Taiwan, the group revealed. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)