Special windows for Taiwan-bound OFWs readied

02/26/2011 - THE Philippine government will soon set up special windows to facilitate document and visa needs of Filipino workers heading for Taiwan, the Palace said Thursday.

The creation of special lanes is expected to ease effects of new requirements imposed by Taipei on Filipino workers, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said.

"Our priority here is the welfare of our citizens who have already obtained employment in Taiwan, but are now having difficulty getting their visas to Taiwan because of the new requirements issued by the [Taipei Economic and Cultural Office]," he said in a statement.

The Teco earlier announced that Taiwan-bound Filipinos would have to submit additional documents as a pre-requisite for work visa issuances.

Taipei was prompted to impose new document requirements after Manila refused to apologize for deporting 14 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China, a country that has a dispute with Taiwan.

In a memorandum dated February 14, Ochoa ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and National Statistics Office (NSO) to establish special lanes in their respective offices dedicated to the processing and authentication or issuance of documents.

Ochoa also asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to expedite the issuance of identification cards.

The SSS has already opened courtesy lanes and has begun issuing documents certifying that the Taiwan-bound overseas Filipino worker (OFW) is a member of SSS, he said.

Taiwan-bound OFWs are also required to apply for the biometric identification card pending the production, supply, and actual delivery of the SSS Biometric ID.

Workers seeking deployment to Taiwan are required by Teco to submit DFA and Teco-authenticated birth certificate and NBI clearance, as well as the original and photocopies of ID cards issued by the SSS, Philhealth and Comelec.

Redeployment not easy

Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III said OFWs in Taiwan can just be redeployed to other countries should Taiwan implement a hiring freeze.

Aquino maintained that the government will not apologize to the Taiwanese government over the deportation row.

Taiwan Labor Minister Wang Ju-hsuan already said that the government prepared to take extreme measures if the row between the two countries is not resolved immediately.

But the Pilipino Manpower Agencies Accredited to Taiwan (Pilmat) said Thursday that Filipino workers in Taiwan cannot be easily redeployed to other countries.

Aquino's statement simply showed arrogance on the part of the Philippines, Pilmat president Jackson Gan said in a phone interview, citing Taiwanese employers.

"It was an ill-advised and arrogant statement from the President. He should first undergo a reality check if it is really doable [to lose the Taiwan market]," said Gan.

Filipinos in Taiwan are mostly unskilled workers, which would make them difficult to redeploy to other countries, especially since the international demand is mostly for skilled ones, he added.

Pilmat advised the government to explore every possibility, if only to save the Taiwan market for OFWs, including the idea of making someone liable over the controversial deportation of 14 Taiwanese to Beijing instead of Taipei.

Gan, however, stopped short of asking Aquino to choose between the estimated 100,000 OFWs and Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Ronaldo Ledesma.

"[Aquino] should simply make someone liable. It will not be worth it to sacrifice the some 100,000 OFWs going jobless in Taiwan and going back to the country," he said.

Asked if he is referring to Ledesma as the one who should be held liable, the recruitment leader answered affirmatively.

"Wala namang iba e (There's no one else)," said Gan.

South Korea as alternative

But Filipino recruiters may have spoken too soon, as the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) has started considering other options for OFWs in Taiwan who might be affected by the dispute.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a phone interview that Dole has already drawn up possible alternatives for OFWs, including their possible redeployment abroad.

"We are considering deploying them to South Korea, which has a high demand for Filipino workers with the same skills (as Taiwan)," said Baldoz.

She expressed confidence that OFWs can easily redeployed mainly due to their adequate language skills.

"Since our workers in Taiwan are highly-skilled and can speak in English, they are very in demand in other countries," noted Baldoz.

Besides South Korea, the labor chief related that they have also explored the possibility of local employment through the help of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., and the Philippine Export Processing Zone Authority. (Sun Star)

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  1. sana approved na ng TECO yung sss certification....

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