Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. (File photo)

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday said overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) in Iran and Lebanon may no longer be covered by the mandatory repatriation imposed by the government with the downgrading of alert levels in these countries.

“Initially, the level of alert for Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon are the same—[Alert Level] 4. Although it was unofficial, I was informed yesterday (Wednesday) that the alert level in Lebanon was put down to level 2 and I understand that there’s no more alert level in Iran,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III in a statement.

He added that the ban on fresh deployment of workers stays as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) will not be processing any application to these countries for the meantime.

Meanwhile, the DOLE chief said the mandatory evacuation for OFWs in Iraq is still in place and a deployment ban is also in effect.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) determines the level of alert and issues advisories to Filipinos for their safety and security.

Alert level 4, which orders the mandatory repatriation of Filipino workers in crisis-stricken areas, was raised in Iran and Iraq on Wednesday.

This came after Tehran’s missile launch against two US bases in Iraq as retaliation to Washington’s drone strike which killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq last week.

DOLE-Information and Publication Service (IPS) Director Rolly Francia said the alert level is not tied up with the deployment ban.

“It (deployment ban) is discretionary on the part of DOLE, POEA especially when the security situations in those countries are very fluid. Mandatory/voluntary repatriation lang ang nakatali sa (Only mandatory/voluntary repatriation is tied up with) alert levels,” Francia said.


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