The new Philippine representative to Taiwan said he hoped his government would hammer out a deal with brokers so that about 4,000 Philippine workers waiting to enter Taiwan could do so by Dec. 14.
Taiwan has three requirements for allowing entry to Filipino workers, including that they be vaccinated and screened for COVID-19 before arriving, Wilfredo Fernandez, chairman and resident representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), said on Tuesday.
He said the third requirement, that workers quarantine for at least three days in the Philippines before arriving in Taiwan, has led to a problem that has not been resolved: Who should cover the cost of the three-day quarantine?
MECO has told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that brokers should pay the bill, said Fernandez, who assumed his post in September.
“I think the agencies should pay, because they make money out of the workers,” he said.
The agencies also benefit if the workers are deployed sooner, as they no longer need to take care of them, he said, possibly referring to the cost of brokers putting up workers at their training centers while they wait to be deployed.
The three-day quarantine requirement has been sent to the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment for review, and the Philippine labor secretary would discuss the issue with brokers, so that they prepare the workers to head to Taiwan using the formula MECO proposed, he said.
Dec. 14 has been set as a deadline because the entry of migrant workers into Taiwan would be suspended from Dec. 15 to Feb. 14 to leave room in quarantine facilities for the many Taiwanese expected to return home for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Taiwan only reopened its borders to Indonesian migrant workers on Nov. 11, and negotiations have been held with the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to lift the ban on their workers.
Taiwan first banned the entry of migrant workers from Indonesia in December last year due to the COVID-19 situation there.
On May 19, it banned entry of almost all foreign nationals without residency, including migrant workers, following a spike in domestic COVID-19 cases in Taiwan.
The ban has resulted in labor shortages in Taiwan’s high-tech and construction sectors, and among Taiwanese families, who rely on migrant workers as caregivers.
Migrant workers are subject to a 14-day quarantine period and an additional seven-day self-health management period in government facilities after arriving, meaning they have to spend a total of 21 days in quarantine, the Ministry of Labor has said.
That differs from the requirements for other arrivals, who can return home for the self-health management period and lead their lives as usual, as long as they do not attend large-scale gatherings or eat in large groups.
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