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DFA creates contingency plan for OFWs in ME

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – A regional contingency plan has been formulated to ensure the safety of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

The contingency plan was formulated in a command conference called by the DFA in Jordan on Jan. 20 to 23, which was attended by ambassadors and consuls general in the Middle East and North Africa.

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran following the attacks on Saudi diplomatic premises in Iran, prompted by the execution of Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia.

During the conference, the contingency plan of each post for evacuation and repatriation of OFWs were examined for comprehensiveness, feasibility and efficiency.

The DFA, however, is yet to provide details of the regional contingency plan.

But the DFA said it does not intend to ban travel and deployment to Saudi Arabia and Iran because there is no immediate threat against OFWs in the two countries.

Malacañang also gave assurance to the three million OFWs in the Middle East that the government can provide them “alternative employment” should they be retrenched.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is “prepared to assist workers that may be affected in securing alternative employment and livelihood opportunities.”

It was announced that the Middle East would implement “Saudization” or the policy of replacing foreign workers with Saudi nationals.

Another concern is that the continuing drop in the prices of crude oil in the world market will have an effect on the employment of OFWs as a result of the shrinking income of oil companies. This could adversely affect the $26.9 billion in OFWs’ annual remittances. – With Delon Porcalla                     

ACIRC DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT MIDDLE EAST MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA NBSP NIMR PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS OPERATIONS OFFICE SECRETARY HERMINIO COLOMA JR. SAUDI ARABIA SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAN WITH DELON PORCALLA
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