ABU DHABI // Countries in the Arabian Gulf, including the UAE, have still not been officially recognised as suitable places for Filipinos to work.
The Philippine government has issued a new list of 31 "fully compliant" states that it has approved as safe for its nationals to work in.
This is in addition to the 124 countries that had already been approved on two earlier lists. Of the 155 nations, Oman is the only representative from the GCC.
Those countries, the Philippines says, have social and labour laws that protect Filipinos' rights, and have ratified declarations and signed agreements with the Philippines on upholding those rights.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has yet to issue a ruling on whether other countries, including those in the GCC, will be added to the list. But Filipinos are free to look for jobs in the region.
The UAE and other regional nations have been given a provisional rating of "fully compliant" pending talks with the Philippines on treaties and agreements. Experts are sure the Emirates will be certified.
"These [talks] will have to take place," said Walden Bello, the chairman of the Philippine congress committee on overseas workers. "For purposes of deployment, these countries are deemed fully compliant."
This week the head of the POEA, Hans Cacdac, said countries to which Manila sent workers were subject to review by the department of foreign affairs and the POEA.
"We are in the process of reviewing their certification," Mr Cacdac said. "Deployment of OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] to these countries would be continuous."
The department of foreign affairs must certify which countries have enough protection for OFWs, and this must be approved by the POEA.
"Our country needs to forge … agreements to enhance workers' protection, especially the vulnerable sector, including domestic workers," said Lito Soriano, head of LBS Recruitment Solutions in Manila.
Talks between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait are continuing, Mr Soriano said, adding he was certain the UAE would be certified as fully compliant.
"In the Philippines, the UAE is viewed as the more progressive country in the GCC," he said. "It is known as the leader in terms of managing migration. It is open and very dynamic."
On June 16 last year, the UAE voted in favour of the ILO Convention 189 and Recommendation 201 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers at a conference in Geneva.
It promises domestic workers clear conditions of employment before they start work, a monthly salary in cash, one day off every week and freedom of association.