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Remove Travel Ban To Nigeria

My friend is in Nigeria. He’s one of the many Filipinos affected by the travel ban. The thing is they gave travel ban because of some kidnappings that happened there. The problem is that generally, Nigeria is peaceful. Only that little portion of Nigeria called Delta Region have some kidnappings going on. And imagine, the Philippines is the only country that imposed total travel ban to Nigeria. OFWs in Nigeria cry for help. They want the travel ban to be lifted. Here’s a copy of their online petition:

Remove Travel Ban to Nigeria
Created by OFWs in Nigeria on Nov 10, 2007
Category: Employment
Region: Philippines
Target: Office of Vice President, Department of Foreign Affairs, POEA, DOLE
Description/History:
The Philippine Government has imposed a total travel ban of Filipinos to Nigeria.

On October 1, 2007, the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Mr. Esteban Conejos Jr. sent a directive to Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz to ensure the full enforcement without exception on the deployment ban to Nigeria. This is in relation to the meeting on September 27, 2007 presided by Vice President Noli De Castro and attended by officials from DFA, DOLE, OWWA, POEA, NBI, CFO and Ambassador Roy A. Cimatu of the PMEPC citing that the peace and order situation in Nigeria is unstable.

OFWs in Nigeria have done enormous efforts through different channels (phone calls, emails, letters) in a request to review and to lift the said deployment ban. Even the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria thru Amabassador Masarunga Umpa issued a statement on November 7, 2007 that they have requested and recommended the government officials in Manila to remove the travel ban.

The reasons to the petition for the lifting of the said ban are enumerated below:

1. The incidences of kidnapping of expatriates are confined mainly to a small area in Nigeria known as the Delta Region and they happen at remote swampy areas, creeks and lagoons of the region’s two states, Rivers and Delta. However, these incidents are certainly not daily occurrences but rather isolated cases which government security agencies have categorised as criminal activities and are not reflective of the entire security situation of the country.

2. Multinational companies operating in the said region, in cooperation with government agencies, have very stringent and well-planned security and surveillance arrangements for all their expatriate and indigenous workers. Aside from such arrangements, these companies have updated contingency plans and evacuation procedures for said workers in the event of emergencies cropping up.

3. The Delta Region is far from Lagos and Abuja, the financial and political centers of the country. It is also far from other major urban centers like Ibadan, Benin, Abeokuta, Aba, in the south and Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Ilorin, in the north. These places are homes to big communities of OFWs and their dependents – are peaceful and quite; daily life and business activities go on normally. True, there are social problems therein, but they are also the same problems that are in the Philippines and other countries, perhaps worse than what is in Nigeria.

4. The employment benefits of OFWs in Nigeria are far better and higher than those offered in the Philippines and in other countries. OFWs in Nigeria have made very positive impressions on their employers and are most likely to be re-hired. However, this current deployment ban will certainly affect such re-employment. Employers fully know that their Filipino workers can no longer return for employment because of this deployment ban. As a result, companies will source their skilled manpower requirements from other countries.

5. If we, OFWs in Nigeria who travel for home leave in the Philippines, are barred from returning to our employment, how can we meet our numerous financial commitments – monthly payments for mortgaged houses, children’s school fees, feeding for the family, water and electric bills, financial support for aged parents, etc?

Are there employment opportunities in the Philippines which can provide us far greater benefits than what we receive from our employers in Nigeria?

6. It is only the Philippine Government which has imposed travel restrictions on its citizens who seek for gainful employment in Nigeria. Other countries, whose citizens have been subject to much sever cases of abductions/kidnappings, issue travel advisories. This situation makes us a laughing stock among the expatriate communities in Nigeria.

Petition:
We, the undersigned, call to the Office of the Vice President of the Philippines to remove the travel ban to Nigeria.

We are constrained to address this petition to concerned authorities and through this medium with the sincere hope that your urgent and kind intervention will finally provide succour to our plight. We have written letters, sent numerous e-mails and made so many calls to our Embassy in Nigeria, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labour and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration regarding this issue, but sadly it remains unresolved.

We have contacted members of Congress for their assistance but it is even more sad that our appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

Sign the petition here.

Furthermore, here is their open letter to our Vice President, Noli De Castro:

Vice-President Noli de Castro
Malacañang Palace
Manila
Philippines

Your Excellency,

We, the signatories to this open letter, are Filipino Overseas Workers (OFW) employed at various places in Nigeria and we earnestly appeal for the lifting of the current ban on the deployment of OFWs to Nigeria.

We are constrained to address this letter direct to your attention and through this medium with the sincere hope that your urgent and kind intervention will finally provide succour to our plight. We have written letters, sent numerous e-mails and made so many calls to our Embassy in Nigeria, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labour and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration regarding this issue, but sadly it remains unresolved. We have contacted members of Congress for their assistance but it is even more sad that our appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

First of all, Sir, we request full clarification on the real nature and intent of this ban as there seems to be conflicting interpretations. Initially we understand that this was a partial deployment ban to cover only those OFWs coming to Nigeria for the first time and therefore their travel documents will not be processed by POEA. Now, it is a total ban wherein we are made to understand that those OFWs currently in Nigeria who intend to go for their home leave or Christmas vacation will no longer be allowed to return to their employment in Nigeria. This also covers those who already travelled to the Philippines but are stranded and cannot go back to their work.

Your Excellency, Sir, we truly believe that this deployment ban, be it partial or total, should be urgently reviewed and the directives of the POEA and DOLE on its implementation should be reversed immediately because of the following reasons:

1. The incidences of kidnapping of expatriates are confined mainly to a small area in Nigeria known as the Delta Region and they happen at remote swampy areas, creeks and lagoons of the region’s two states, Rivers and Delta. However, these incidents are certainly not daily occurrences but rather isolated cases which government security agencies have categorised as criminal activities and are not reflective of the entire security situation of the country. However, it is very comforting to note that the Federal Government of Nigeria, under the current administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua, has put a high premium on the resolution of this social problem and the dividends are coming to fruition. This can be indicated by the increasing visits of the country’s Vice-President to the region for in-depth discussions on security and development programmes with the major stakeholders including multinational companies.

2. Multinational companies operating in the said region, in cooperation with government agencies, have very stringent and well-planned security and surveillance arrangements for all their expatriate and indigenous workers. Aside from such arrangements, these companies have updated contingency plans and evacuation procedures for said workers in the event of emergencies cropping up.

3. The Delta Region is far from Lagos and Abuja, the financial and political centers of the country. It is also far from other major urban centers like Ibadan, Benin, Abeokuta, Aba, in the south and Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Ilorin, in the north. These places are homes to big communities of OFWs and their dependents – are peaceful and quite; daily life and business activities go on normally. True, there are social problems therein, but they are also the same problems that are in the Philippines and other countries, perhaps worse than what is in Nigeria.

We are in the best position to know these things because most of us OFWs have stayed in Nigeria for more than five years. A good number of us have stayed for decades, have raised our families and have considered Nigeria a home away from home.

4. The employment benefits of OFWs in Nigeria are far better and higher than those offered in the Philippines and in the Middle East. OFWs in Nigeria have made very positive impressions on their employers and are most likely to be re-hired. However, this current deployment ban will certainly affect such re-employment. It is because those who are to go on home leave are requested to defer such leave, just wind up their contract and go home for good. Employers fully know that their Filipino workers can no longer return for employment because of this deployment ban. As a result, companies will source their skilled manpower requirements from other countries.

5. If we, OFWs in Nigeria who travel for home leave in the Philippines, are barred from returning to our employment (including those who have travelled before and now stranded in the Philippines), how can we meet our numerous financial commitments – monthly payments for mortgaged houses, children’s school fees, feeding for the family, water and electric bills, financial support for aged parents, etc?

Are there employment opportunities in the Philippines which can provide us far greater benefits than what we receive from our employers in Nigeria?

6. I t is only the Philippine Government which has imposed travel restrictions on its citizens who seek for gainful employment in Nigeria. Other countries, whose citizens have been subject to much sever cases of abductions/kidnappings, issue travel advisories. This situation makes us a laughing stock among the expatriate communities in Nigeria.

Most of us, Sir, have already made preparations to travel to the Philippines for our home leave or Christmas holidays this December 2007. Allow us to enjoy, even for a brief period, our cherished tradition of reunions with our families and loved ones without worry and anxiety but with the assurance that we can return to our employment in Nigeria for their further betterment.

Your Excellency, we will try to understand the rationale of this deployment ban in the same manner that you will try to understand our feelings and sentiments on the issue. While its reconsideration may not be forthcoming as speedily as we wish it to be, allow us Sir to propose our humble suggestion in the interim:

The Philippine Embassy in Nigeria is our government’s frontline source of information on the host country. The Embassy is in the best position to ascertain the real situation affecting the welfare of Philippine nationals in Nigeria and as such, it could issue a Certification that an OFW in Nigeria is employed and working in a safe and secured area in the country. This will allow the OFW to proceed on home leave or Christmas vacation with the assured return to the place of employment in Nigeria.

Ginoong Pangalawang Pangulo, kami pong lahat na OFW dito sa Nigeria ay masayang bumabati ng MALIGAYANG PASKO AT MANIGONG BAGONG TAON sa inyong lahat.

Maraming salamat po.

Lubos na gumagalang,

Mga OFW sa NIGERIA

Please, help them on this petition. Post this on your blog.

Thank you very much.

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Marhgil Macuha

Marhgil Macuha is a Computer Engineering graduate of Batangas State University. He is a professional network marketer in the Philippines, with business partners all over the world.

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