Departing OFWs not required to wear PPEs — Ople

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 24) — Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan "Toots" Ople has ordered recruitment agencies to stop requiring overseas Filipino workers leaving the country to wear personal protective equipment (PPEs).

It was Senator Pia Cayetano who raised the issue in a privilege speech on Wednesday.

"I agree with the sentiments of Senator Pia Cayetano and other legislators that the PPE requirement for departing OFWs is outdated, misguided, and oppressive. I regret not having issued this order much earlier to spare our OFWs the discomfort of going to the airport in full PPE attire," Ople said.

The DMW chief also emphasized that COVID-19 vaccines — including booster doses — and the wearing of face masks provide enough protection for OFWs.

"[U]ntil otherwise recommended by our health officials, the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) advisory against mandatory wearing of PPEs for our OFWs by their respective recruitment and manning agencies shall remain in force," Ople added.

The POEA advisory stated that the agency has neither issued nor implemented rules and guidelines mandating the use of PPEs by OFWs, "whether in Philippine airports or in the countries of destination."

It added that requirements on the deployment and travel of OFWs must be relaxed, in line with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the country.