GDN: HUNDREDS of Filipino job-seekers have been affected by a government ban on travel to Bahrain, say rights activists. However, they continue to remain in the dark about when it will be lifted despite Bahrain's State of National Safety ending today.
"We have no idea when Manila will lift this travel ban," said a Philippines Embassy official.
"There is no time frame announced till date for the ban on newly-hired Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to be lifted."
The official said the embassy was constantly exchanging information with the Department of Foreign Affairs and other government bodies about the situation in Bahrain.
"There are many agencies in Manila which are responsible for taking decisions on imposing or lifting the ban," he said.
"We on our part informed our government that Bahrain is lifting the State of National Safety on June 1.
"Our analysis is that the situation is returning to normal.
"But we are still waiting for their decision to allow new recruits to travel to Bahrain."
The Philippines tightened emigration rules as a result of political unrest in Bahrain, during which anti-government factions attacked Asians - killing four people and injuring hundreds more.
Filipinos already employed in Bahrain returning from holiday, as well as people being rehired on valid work visas are not affected by the ban.
The embassy was unable to provide figures of the number of people affected by the ban, but said officials were dealing with daily queries from employers.
However, according to the Saudi-based migrant workers protection group Migrante hundreds of OFWs have been affected.
"According to our estimates, there are more than 250 to 400 OFWs affected by the Philippines deployment ban to Bahrain," said its Middle East regional co-ordinator John Monterona.
He called for the immediate lifting of the ban, saying similar measures taken by India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan had already been reversed.
"We cannot understand why the Philippines Embassy could not properly assess the situation in Bahrain, where the situation is going back to normal," he said.
The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry last month reiterated calls by the business community to lift any remaining restrictions on travelling here.
The Philippines Overseas Employment Administration first stopped Filipinos coming to Bahrain on February 23 during anti-government protests.
It announced on March 9 that it would resume the processing of papers for workers bound for Bahrain, but following an escalation of violence and a spate of attacks on Asians the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs reintroduced the ban on March 16, but only for newly-hired workers.
The GDN reported in March that a Filipina woman was injured during attacks on Asians in Manama.
Philippines Ambassador Corazon Yap-Bahjin revealed anti-government protesters photographed the victim, who was hit by a stone, and posted her pictures on the Internet - falsely claiming she had been assaulted by Saudi troops.