The Daily Manila Shimbun


Labor department stops sending Filipino workers to Qatar

June 6, 2017

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the Philippine government has temporarily banned deployment of migrant workers to Qatar as a "preparatory measure". "Effective today, we have ordered the suspension of deployment of OFWs ( Overseas Filipino Workers)  in Qatar," said Bello. "In fact, we stopped all processing and even those who were scheduled to go. Sorry, but we have to suspend first the deployment," Bello added. Bello said the deployment ban will be in effect as long as needed. "It depends on the assessment that we will be undertaking. We are in close coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)," said Bello. Bello said they will not order repatriation of an estimated 200,000 documented and undocumented OFWs based  in Qatar. "Per information coming directly from our labor attache, there is no such necessity so far," said the labor secretary. Bello said the government needs to adopt measures to meet a “possible exigency.” "If anything happens and they run out of food and food riots take place, definitely our OFWs will be the first victims. So we need to adopt preparatory measures to meet the possible exigency," said Bello. “Our labor office in Qatar is ready to extend any form of assistance given the circumstances may require. Our people are on alert. Although there is no cause for alarm, it’s better that we be prepared. Our POLO ( Philippine Overseas Labor Office) is open on 24-hour service for any emergency situation,” Bello said. Last Monday, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Yemen said they have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, which is accused of supporting extremist activities. For the moment, Bello said DOLE has deployed an augmentation team to Qatar and other Middle East countries to address any related incidents. "We should advise our OFWs in Qatar and our Philippine Overseas Labor Office to start making stock of food provisions," he said. Bello also said they have issued an advisory to local recruitment agencies for them to be prepared to attend to the needs of OFWs they have deployed there. "We informed our recruitment agencies to get in touch with their counterparts in Qatar to see to it our migrant workers there are sufficiently protected if anything goes wrong in that country," said Bello. DMS