Acting on a directive from Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued an advisory against the requirements of certain agencies for migrant workers to wear full Personal Protective Equipment, or PPEs, while preparing to leave the country.
She said the wearing of PPEs is not sanctioned by the department and the POEA.
“I agree with the sentiments of Senator Pia Cayetano and other legislators that the PPE requirement for departing OFWs is outdated, misguided and oppressive.”
“I agree with the sentiments of Senator Pia Cayetano and other legislators that the PPE requirement for departing OFWs is outdated, misguided, and oppressive. I regret not having issued this order much earlier to spare our OFWs the discomfort of going to the airport in full PPE attire,” Ople, who was part of the presidential delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said.
The Department of Migrant Workers thanked Cayetano for keenly observing and pointing out in her remarks on the Senate floor the wearing of PPEs by a group of OFWs waiting for their flights at one of the airport terminals.
The POEA issued Advisory #62 series 2022 reminding recruitment agencies not to make the wearing of PPEs a requirement for OFWs as they travel to their destination countries.
According to the advisory, “the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has not issued nor implemented rules and guidelines mandating the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), whether in Philippine airports or in the countries of destination.”
The advisory, issued by DMW Undersecretary for Licensing and Adjudication Bernard Olalia concurrently POEA Officer-in-Charge, explains that “with the easing of regulations on both domestic and international travel, and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF)’s promulgation of policies for the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, such as the voluntary wearing of face masks outdoors and the downgrading of most areas to the lowest alert levels, the POEA reiterates that requirements on the deployment and travel of OFWs must also be relaxed.”
A manning agency disclosed to Ople that one of their Japanese principals still require the wearing of PPEs and masks for Filipino crew bound for Japan since the COVID-19 virus is still prevalent in Japan. The said agency, however, promised to comply with the POEA advisory.
A Chinese shipping vessel also requires its local manning agency to supply PPEs to the embarking crew to prevent infection during travel, with the cost of the PPEs shouldered by the employer.
“Until otherwise recommended by our health officials, the POEA advisory against mandatory wearing of PPEs for our OFWs by their respective recruitment and manning agencies shall remain in force.”
“The DMW firmly believes that having vaccines plus booster shots and wearing face masks provide sufficient protection to our overseas workers. Until otherwise recommended by our health officials, the POEA advisory against the mandatory wearing of PPEs for our OFWs by their respective recruitment and manning agencies shall remain in force,” she stressed.
In Taiwan, the easing of health protocols has led to a shorter quarantine period and a halt to a previous requirement for OFWs arriving in Taiwan to wear PPEs.
Ople noted that other countries such as the United States have relaxed their health protocols for all travelers including foreign workers, with the airlines requiring only the presentation of vaccination certificates.
“Asking our OFWs to wear PPEs at this time is like asking surfers to wear ballgowns – it’s cumbersome, awkward, and extremely peculiar. In short, OA na masyado,” she concluded.