FSM reiterates plea for lifting ban on Philippine labour deployment

Micronesian officials have renewed their appeal for the Philippine government to rescind its four-year-old ban on deployment of Filipino workers to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

Last week, FSM Justice Secretary Joses R. Gallen met with Philippine labour officials in Manila to discuss the possible resumption of manpower support for Micronesia.

The Philippine Department of Migrant Workers, however, gave a tentative response to the FSM’s request.

“The FSM government is not aware, at the time of this release, when the lifting of the ban will occur, though discussions between the FSM and Philippine governments remain positive,” the FSM government said in a statement.

Labour officials told Gallen “that the process for lifting the ban will take time.”

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration(POEA) stopped sending workers to the FSM in September 2018 due to mounting complaints of labour abuse by local employers.

The POEA previously blacklisted the Chuuk State Hospital “following reports of continuing maltreatment, contract violations, harassment, discrimination and abuse of overseas Filipino workers.”

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs recommended a total ban on labour deployment based on reports from the Philippine Consulate Office in Haganta, which has oversight of Filipinos on Guam, CNMI and the FSM.

Returning workers were later exempted from the ban.

In September, President David Panuelo met with his Philippine counterpart, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly in New York.

The FSM government said “it is the understanding of the FSM” that the Philippines “intends to work with the FSM in order to lift the deployment ban on new imported labour.”

After his Manila visit, Gallen met with Philippine Consul General Patrick John Hilado on Guam.

“The consul general said his office is working closely with the Department of Migrant Workers in the Philippines to substantiate the FSM’s intent and interest to conclude a bilateral labour agreement with the government of the Philippines based on compliance and previous communications between the two governments,” FSM said.

The Philippines was the main source of construction manpower for the FSM, which currently has several projects in the pipeline under the government’s Pave the Nation initiative that involves the rehabilitation of public roads and bridges in four states. During his meeting with Yap leaders earlier this year, Panuelo reported that the FSM has secured US$75 million from World Bank and US$12 million from Asian Development Bank to fund the government’s centrepiece programme.