Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday instructed Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) officer-in-charge Ameurfina Reyes to closely monitor the situation in Thailand, in close coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs, in the wake of the Thai Army’s declaration of Martial Law in the country, a key ASEAN member.
Baldoz issued the instruction before she left Manila to attend the ASEAN Labor Ministers’ Meeting in Myanmar.
“The DFA has issued Alert Level 2 (Restriction Phase) for Thailand which requires Filipino nationals staying in Thailand to restrict non-essential movements, avoid public places, and prepare for evacuation, if necessary,” said Baldoz.
“I have instructed the POEA to immediately convene the Governing Board to decide on a deployment ban in response to the events in Thailand. I strongly advise Filipinos in Thailand to be vigilant, avoid public places, restrict non-essential movements, and stay in their houses as much as possible,” she added.
Secretary Baldoz is the chairman of the POEA Governing Board, while the POEA Administrator is the Vice Chairman.
It can be recalled that the POEA Governing Board banned the deployment of newly-hired overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) intending to work in four specific areas in Thailand in late January when Thailand authorities declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and other surrounding areas stemming from the series of protests calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Ying Luck Shinawatra.
The ban was issued after the DFA raised the crisis alert level for Thailand to Crisis Alert Level 2 (Restriction Phase) in Bangkok, the Thai capital; Nonthaburi Province; Lad Lum Kaew District (Pathumthani Province); and Bang Phli District (Samutprakan Province), in view of the declaration of a 60-day state of emergency due to the escalating civil unrest and insecurity in the said areas. The POEA Governing Board lifted the ban on 25 March.
Baldoz said R. A. 10022 authorizes the POEA Governing Board, after consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to impose a ban on the deployment of Filipino migrant workers in pursuit of national interest or when public welfare so requires.
While Thailand is not a major OFW destination, POEA data show that the Philippines deployed 8,659 overseas Filipino workers to Thailand in 2013, mostly teachers, engineers, production and related workers, and composers, musicians, and singers. The Commission on Filipino Overseas’ Stock Estimate of Filipinos in December 2012 place the number of Filipinos in Thailand at 16,303.
Press release courtesy of the Department of Labor and Employment, 20 May 2014.