TAIPEI (The China Post) — The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA, 菲律賓海外就業署) recently called on Taiwan to avoid tasking migrant workers with the burden of quarantine and testing fees needed before boarding their flights.
According to Emmanuel Geslani (蓋斯拉尼), an expert on migrant workers’ employment and immigration in the Philippines, the heightened epidemic-prevention measures and border bans have affected 5,000 and more migrant workers who are qualified but are not allowed into Taiwan.
This is due to the previous border control ban Taiwan issued in May 2021 when the local pandemic situation first broke out; in November, Taiwan began allowing migrant workers from Indonesia and Thailand into the country but was still in discussion with the Filipino and Vietnamese governments.
The discussions mostly centered around negotiations between the respective countries on who should pay for the quarantine and rapid testing fees migrant workers have to undergo before they can head to Taiwan for work.
At present, Taiwan’s epidemic-prevention plan for migrant workers is divided into “overseas epidemic prevention” and “quarantine upon entry.”
Overseas epidemic prevention requirements include having migrant workers tested before staying in training institutions in their home countries, and have a negative PCR test again two days before boarding, while also having them stay in quarantine facilities until boarding within the next two days.
Geslani pointed out that the crux of the negotiations faced by Taiwan and the Philippines is that the cost of rapid testing and quarantine accommodations before entering Taiwan is estimated to be about 10,000 pesos (about NT$5,406), and the Taiwan government is asking that the fees be borne by migrant workers or by labor broker agencies first.
To this, the Philippines government hopes that the cost can be covered by Taiwanese employers or local labor broker agencies.
After numerous back and forth, the POEA recently stated that the Philippines government will not allow overseas migrant workers to be burdened by the fees for PCR testing and quarantine stays.
They added that even if other countries voice their consent to having migrant workers pay the fees themselves, the Philippines government will not allow it.
The administrator of the POEA, Bernard Olalia (奧拉萊) stated that the Philippines government agreed with the epidemic-prevention measures offered by Taiwan, but did not agree that migrant workers should bear the quarantine costs need before heading abroad.
He advocated that employers or labor broker agencies should cover the cost, adding that if they disagree, Taiwan should propose other means to pay the fees, and not ask migrant workers to pay for it themselves.
He remarked that he has issued a reply to the Taiwanese government to request this suggestion be implemented.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA, 海外工人福利管理局) director Hans J. Cacdac also emphasized that labor broker agencies should bear more responsibility for the caring of migrant workers, including their transportation and travel expenses from their hometown to the airport.
Geslani stressed that as Indonesian and Thai migrant workers have been re-allowed entry into Taiwan, the Philippines government should speed up negotiations to catch the opening of electronics factories and assembly plants after the Lunar New Year when manpower shortages will be most apparent.
He added that they should also avoid missing the opportunity which may result in Filipino migrant workers being replaced by those from other countries, thereby affecting the job positions they could have in Taiwan.