Philippines Temporarily Suspends Deployment of Filipino Workers to Qatar

June 8, 20178:31 am1983 views

With the Arab-Qatar rift, many OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) have been affected by this decision. The Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) Philippines yesterday announced suspension of deployment of Filipino workers to Qatar, after seven countries severed ties and closed their borders with the Kingdom. This suspension applies to newly-hired and returning Filipino workers as well.

The seven Arab countries namely – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Yemen, and Libya, broke off relations with Qatar on accusation grounds of it supporting terrorist groups.

This announcement was made by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, a day after several Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, cut ties with Qatar accusing the region of supporting extremism. Doha, in response, denied the accusations and retaliated by saying its Gulf neighbors were seeking to put the country under “guardianship,” ABS-CBN News reported.

“I temporarily suspend the deployment of our OFWs in the county of Qatar. This is for us to be able to assess the situation because there are so many wild rumors going around, saying things are not going well there. This suspension is for the welfare and protection of our OFWs,” Bello said in a release by DOLE.

Given the situation in the said Arab country, Bello, meantime has sent augmentation team composed of five Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) officers and staff to Qatar, and other involved Middle East countries to assess the situation and monitor the condition of around 250,000 OFWs in Qatar.

“Even those who are ready to go we have to temporary suspend for their own protection because we have to assess the situation first before we could allow again the deployment of our migrant workers,” Bello was quoted by CNN Money.

It is necessary to assess the situation first before allowing the Filipino migrant workers to get deployed in Qatar.

See: Guidelines Issued for Grant of Performance-Based Bonus for Government Workers in Philippines

“We need to study first the situation. For now, the protection of our migrant workers comes first. The duration of suspension of deployment will depend on the assessment of the situation with close coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Bello added.

Saudi Arabia has blocked all land, sea and air routes to Qatar, and the UAE has closed its airports and harbors to Qatari flights and shipping. While the Arab states have accused Qatar on account of extremism, Qatar in its justification says these claims are baseless and unjustified.

The labour chief also directed Labor Attaché David Des Dicang to ensure food provision for the OFWs, as Qatar does not have its own food production. He also advised all recruitment agencies to get in touch with their counterparts in Qatar to see to it, that Filipino migrant workers are sufficiently and effectively protected.

“Our labour office in Qatar is ready to extend any form of assistance under the circumstances. Naka-alert na po ang ating mga tao diyan. Although wala pa naman masyadong cause for alarm, mabuti na ‘yung nakahanda tayo. Our POLO is open on 24-hour service for any emergency situation,” Bello said.

He further assured OFWs to not worry as Philippines still maintains good diplomatic relations with Qatar.

“I was invited by the Minister of Labour of Qatar this September for the secured and more lenient processing of deployment of our migrant workers. They said, they prefer more Filipino workers. And we maintain good labour relations for the welfare and security of our OFWs,” Bello added.

He noted that the visit would be for the signing of labour agreements on the social protection and security of OFWs. In 2016, a total of 127,917 Filipino workers were deployed to Qatar. Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates there are around 220,000 Filipinos in the kingdom.

Also read: ADB Grants US$300 Million to Philippines to Help Boost Youth Employment

Feature image credit: constructionweekonline.com

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