DOLE Urged to Resolve ‘Impasse’ on Taiwan Protocols to Permit Entry of OFWs
Recruitment and Migration Expert Emmanuel Geslani stated that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should settle the impasse on Taiwan protocols to allow the entry of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
Geslani expressed in an interview that the impasse has affected 5,000 OFWs waiting for DOLE and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) decision on the new pre-quarantine protocols set by Taiwan.
According to Geslani, “The government has to decide soon, or our Taiwan labor market may eventually go to our [Southeast Asian] neighbors and thousands of OFWs will lose opportunities to earn in a lucrative market like Taiwan; with the highest salaries in the blue-collar jobs and very generous social and welfare benefits.”
Geslani mentioned that Taiwan has already allowed migrant workers from Indonesia and Thailand due to both countries’ “willingness to cooperate and adhere to Taiwan’s COVID-19 rules.”
On May 2021, the Taiwanese government prohibited the entry of foreigners without valid resident certificates after Taiwan faced emerging COVID-19 infections once again.
Geslani noted that overseas workers that are not included in the entry ban are subject to a number of measures before they are authorized to enter the country.
COVID-19 testing is a prerequisite for workers before they enter job training centers in their home countries. They would also have to test negative two days before their departure to Taiwan.
In addition to Geslani’s statement, “If they test negative, prospective migrant workers must then stay in quarantine for the remaining 48 hours leading up to their flight.”
Furthermore, Geslani cited that Indonesia and Thailand have agreed to the new protocol guidelines for overseas workers while POEA under DOLE is “studying the matter.”
Geslani also mentioned that the Philippine labor force in Taiwan “dwindled too far less than what used to be.”In the past years, there were 180,000 OFW’s in Taiwan.
Geslani noted that according to data citing from Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor, The Philippines ranked a “poor third” behind Vietnam and Indonesia.
He continued that If the number of Filipino workers in Taiwan continues to diminish, the countries dollar remittances will see a “slow decrease” on the US$1 billion sent by OFWs yearly.
On September 2021, there were 690,025 overseas workers from various ASEAN countries in Taiwan. Over 245,365 from Indonesia, 241,626 from Vietnam, 145,288 from the Philippines and 57,738 from Thailand.
On November 16, 2021, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei, expressed that there are no efforts provided to expedite the entry of Filipino migrant workers in Taiwan.
In a MECOlive program live-streamed via Facebook, Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) Labor Attaché Cesar Chavez Jr. expressed that his office forwarded the requirements Taiwan has set for the entry of OFWs to DOLE.
Chavez explained, “It’s Taiwan that imposes its own requirements to labor-sending countries. And because there are many such requirements, it has to be discussed with the stakeholders in Manila.”
Chavez mentioned that one of the requirements set by Taiwan includes various rounds of negative RT-PCR tests during the required self-health monitoring and quarantine before deployment, the appointment of quarantine facilities, and accreditation of RT-PCR testing centers in Manila.