Philippines embassy awaits word on workers ban
Manama, June 2, 2011
Diplomats were awaiting official word on whether a ban on new Filipino recruits coming to Bahrain had been lifted.
It follows a report by the state-run Philippines News Agency, which said the ban had been lifted for new hires as well as workers returning to Bahrain.
'There has to be an official circular sent to us by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as part of the protocol,' said an embassy official.
'As of now the ban continues to be in place until the embassy receives this circular from Manila.'
He said there were several reports yesterday about the ban being lifted, but added the embassy could not confirm it without official notification.
'We have already informed the DFA that the situation in Bahrain has improved and the ban should be lifted,' said the official.
'The situation is normal and we recommend them again to allow Filipinos to travel to Bahrain, especially after the State of National Safety has been lifted.'
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) officer-in-charge Rhea Glynda Calantas was quoted in the media yesterday that Bahrain's alert status had been reduced from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1.
He explained this meant the POEA would allow Filipinos with new job contracts in Bahrain and returning workers with valid work visas or residence permits to travel to Bahrain.
However, alanta said all newly hired workers must possess job contracts authenticated and verified by the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) in Bahrain for their protection.
'This is to ensure that our workers who will be going to Bahrain will have legitimate jobs and will receive their due salaries on time,' he said.
Our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN) reported yesterday that hundreds of Filipino jobseekers were affected by the government travel ban to Bahrain.
The Philippines tightened emigration rules as a result of political unrest in Bahrain, during which anti-government factions attacked Asians - killing four people and injuring hundreds more.
According to the Saudi-based migrant workers protection group Migrante, hundreds of Filipinos have been affected.
'According to our estimates, there are more than 250 to 400 OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) affected by the Philippines deployment ban,' said its Middle East regional co-ordinator John Monterona.
He called for the immediate lifting of the ban, saying similar measures taken by India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan had already been reversed.
The POEA first stopped Filipinos coming to Bahrain on February 23 during anti-government protests.
It announced on March 9 that it would resume the processing of papers for workers bound for Bahrain, but following an escalation of violence and a spate of attacks on Asians the Philippines DFA reintroduced the ban on March 16.
The GDN reported in March that a Filipina woman was injured during attacks on Asians in Manama.
The embassy said then that anti-government protesters photographed the victim, who was hit by a stone, and posted her pictures on the Internet, falsely claiming she had been assaulted by Saudi troops.-TradeArabia News Service