TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A consultant and migration expert is urging Philippine government agencies to resolve the "impasse" with Taiwan authorities over epidemic prevention protocols to enable Filipino workers to enter Taiwan.
Entry for all migrant workers was suspended on May 19 after a surge in local COVID cases. On Nov. 11, Taiwan lifted the ban on Indonesian workers under a new points-based scheme, and on Dec. 30 lifted the restrictions on the entry of Thai workers, while negotiations are still ongoing with the Philippines and Vietnam.
The Inquirer on Sunday (Jan. 2) cited Filipino recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani as saying that an "impasse" between the Taiwan government and Philippine government agencies has left over 5,000 Filipino migrant workers with jobs lined up in Taiwan in limbo. He said the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its subsidiary the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) have yet to come to an agreement with Taiwan on pre-quarantine protocols for foreign workers entering the country.
“The government has to decide soon or our Taiwan labor market may eventually go to our Southeast Asian neighbors and thousands of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) will lose the 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,” wrote Geslani in a statement released that day. He observed that Taiwan has already begun to allow entry for migrant workers from Indonesian and Thailand because of their nations' "willingness to cooperate and adhere to Taiwan’s COVID-19 rules.”
Geslani explained that participating countries have implemented epidemic prevention measures prescribed by Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). The measures include testing before entering training centers in their countries of origin and testing negative two days before departure for Taiwan.
He noted that if the workers test negative two days before their flight to Taiwan, they then must spend the last 48 hours before their flight in quarantine. Geslani pointed out that while Indonesia and Thailand are cooperating with Taiwan's new epidemic prevention guidelines and pre-quarantine requirements, the POEA is still "studying the matter."
Geslani noted that the number of Filipino workers in Taiwan has rapidly “dwindled too far less than what used to be.” Prior to the pandemic, there were over 180,000 Filipino workers in Taiwan, but by Sept. 2021, the number had dropped by 35,000.
Out of the 690,025 migrant workers in Taiwan, Indonesians comprised the largest group at 245,365, followed by 241,626 Vietnamese, 145,288 Filipinos, and 57,738 Thais. Geslani cautioned that if the deadlock is not soon resolved, there will be a "slow decrease" in the US$1 billion dollars (NT$27.63 billion) in remittances sent from Taiwan to the Philippines each year.