Thousands of aspiring Filipino contract workers may have to wait for a few more months for the government to lift the deployment ban to Lebanon as negotiations between the Philippines and Lebanon on a memorandum of agreement (MoA) that would govern the deployment of the workers to the Middle East state has been stalled since July.
Lebanese Honorary Consul to the Philippines Consul General Joseph Assad said negotiations on the matter can not resume because the new government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri has been unable to form a new Cabinet since the June 7 elections in Lebanon.
"The country is waiting for new administration officials (to be chosen). Until then and till they appoint a new labor minister, the Lebanon-Philippines talks will be put in the backburner as other priorities on the labor front will have to be tackled initially by the new (Lebanese) government," Assaid said.
He said thousands of skilled positions for construction, tourism, service and hospitality categories await qualified overseas Filipino workers (OFW) as the building boom continues unabated with the return of political stability in Lebanon.
Manila issued the OFW deployment ban to Lebanon in 2006 following the outbreak of hostilities between Israeli and Hezbollah forces.
There are about 400,000 household service workers in Lebanon, 10 percent of this figure are Filipinos.
Presently, there are more than 46,000 maids in Lebanon in addition to the 25,000 who opted to remain in Beirut during the 2006 war with Israel.
The 46,000 managed to slip into Lebanon from July 2006 to December 2008 and many more have arrived this year, Assad said.
He said he has yet to receive word from Lebanon on the composition and the date of the arrival of the new panel that will negotiate for the MoA in the Philippines.
Earlier, the Lebanese government rejected the Philippines’ demand for a $400 a month minimum salary for household domestic helpers.
The current minimum salary for maids in Lebanon is $300 a month, and until that is amended by the Lebanese parliament, Beirut could not agree to the MoA, Assad said.
Michaela P. del Callar