Philippines warns against deployment of pregnant OFWs to Jordan

May. 25, 2007

MANILA Philippine Ambassador to Jordan Jose P. del Rosario reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that the Embassy has issued an advisory against the deployment of pregnant OFWs to Jordan after the Embassy faced complications in repatriating these women after they give birth because of the strict rules of Jordan a conservative Muslim country against issuing birth documents if there is no proof of the marital status of the child’s parents.

Ambassador del Rosario said that there has been a spate of cases where OFWs carried their pregnancies from the Philippines and delivered their babies in Jordan. Several of these cases were deployed by unscrupulous Philippine recruitment agencies despite their knowledge of the pregnancies prior to deployment. In at least one case, the worker insisted on continuing with her flight to Jordan although she knew she was pregnant.

The Ambassador has urged Philippine authorities to put in place more stringent measures that would ensure that OFWs undergo proper medical examination before departure. It appears from our interviews of these women that their pregnancy tests were conducted several weeks or months prior to departure and that they became pregnant after the tests were conducted, Ambassador del Rosario said, adding, in some cases, Philippine recruitment agencies even deployed women workers who they knew to be pregnant.

Ambassador del Rosario cited the particular case of an OFW. The OFW insisted that her agency deploy her even after it was known that she was pregnant. For six months after her arrival, the OFW was able to keep her Jordanian employers unaware of her pregnancy until they noticed that she was sweating and bleeding one morning. They rushed her to one of the more modern hospitals in Amman where she gave birth to a son.

The OFW being unmarried, the hospital and Civil Status and Passports Department (Jordans national statistics office) refused to issue a report of birth and certificate of birth, which are necessary to allow the Embassy to issue a passport or travel document for the infant.

Even if the Embassy issued the passport or travel document without the infant’s birth documents, it would still be difficult for mother and baby to exit Jordan since immigration authorities routinely check for such papers, Ambassador del Rosario explained, adding the OFW now finds herself in bureaucratic limbo and facing an uncertain situation.

Jordanian authorities have implied that illegitimate children born in Jordan become wards of the state. Philippine Embassy officials are presently making representations with various branches of the Jordanian government, as well as with the National Centre for Human Rights, to discuss and agree on a mutually acceptable solution to cases of this nature.

Given the complex and sensitive nature of the problem, Ambassador del Rosario strongly advises OFWs intending to work in Jordan that they should not continue with their deployment if they find themselves pregnant. The Ambassador also recommended more stringent monitoring of OFW medical examinations to ensure that results are not tampered with by unscrupulous agencies and medical clinics.

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