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OFWs in Qatar fear displacement

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino workers in Qatar remain concerned even as the Philippine government has assured them that there is no reason to panic.

Arman Hernando, spokesman for Migrante International, said Filipino construction workers in Qatar have expressed fear of losing their jobs due to an embargo against the oil-rich country.

“Qatar is importing construction materials from Saudi Arabia and our construction workers are worried that unless the situation improves, there will be a shortage in construction materials and they would eventually lose their jobs,” Hernando disclosed.

He said the Philippine government should start preparing measures to ensure alternative employment for Filipino workers who might be affected by the diplomatic row between Qatar and other Gulf countries.

Labor and Employment Assistant Secretary Amy Reyes said they don’t see a decline in the hiring of Filipino workers for Qatar.

 Reyes said foreign employers still prefer to hire Filipino workers because of their good attitude and skills.

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She said the Philippine government has not received reports of any situation that should cause worry for Filipino workers.

She gave assurance that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Qatar and the Philippine embassy are prepared for any scenario, including the possible repatriation of workers.

Reyes said that workers need to pass through a process and could not, on their own, transfer from one country to another.

“It is very important that they have their exit visas. There is also a process with respect to that in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs and our embassy there,” she said.

The labor department, Reyes said, has sent a team to Qatar to monitor the situation and check on the safety of Filipino workers.

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