MANILA — Only a fourth of the countries employing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been certified fit to hire by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as mandated by the amended Migrant Workers Act.

In a meeting with recruitment leaders recently, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Jennifer Manalili said the agency is already evaluating the 55 countries certified by the DFA out of 200 host countries.

Under the law, workers cannot be deployed to countries not certified by the DFA.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz earlier said the government is not inclined to impose an immediate deployment ban to uncertified countries.

The DFA has until the end of the month to complete the assessment.

Representatives of the local recruitment industry earlier warned of a huge decline in the hiring of Filipino workers abroad with the implementation of the law.

They said very few countries can comply with the requirements of the law.

Industry leaders have also called for the postponement of the insurance coverage requirement for OFWs until the Insurance Commission comes up with a lower premium acceptable to the industry.

Labor officials and employer groups in Hong Kong and Taiwan oppose the policy because they already provide insurance coverage to foreign workers.

Local recruiters have threatened to stop deploying workers abroad if the government would not defer the implementation of the insurance scheme.

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