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OFWs in Qatar losing jobs amid diplomatic crisis

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
OFWs in Qatar losing jobs amid diplomatic crisis

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the high number of displacements among Filipino workers in Qatar is now a cause of concern for the Philippine government. Rudy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — Over 600 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Qatar have lost their jobs and more may suffer the same fate due to a prevailing diplomatic crisis among Arab countries, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported yesterday.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the high number of displacements among Filipino workers in Qatar is now a cause of concern for the Philippine government.

“The situation in Qatar seems to be getting worse. In fact, the leader of our OFW organization visited me last week and informed me about the incidents of stoppage and separation from work,” Bello said in a press conference.

Bello said the prevailing diplomatic crisis between Qatar and other Middle East countries has led to closures of companies and retrenchment of hundreds of Filipino workers.

According to Bello, the Filipino community leader has cautioned him against allowing continued deployment of Filipino workers to Qatar.

However, Bello said, the ongoing displacement has not reach the extent of suspending deployment of OFWs to Qatar.

Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III said about 644 Filipino workers have been affected by the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and other Middle East countries.

“We looked at the companies where these Filipinos worked and apparently a lot of them are owned by Saudi companies. So this might be at face value a divestment of Saudi from Qatar. Until the political issues are settled there, it is always a threat for Filipinos. We are closely observing this,” Lagunzad noted. 

Bello said DOLE is sending to Qatar and other countries in the Middle East this month, a team headed by Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) deputy administrator Arnel Ignacio to check on the welfare and conditions of OFWs in the region.

He also reported minimal displacement of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia as a result of the oil crisis and the Saudization program.

“One of the reasons for the temporary displacement of OFWs is Saudization or the effort of the Saudi government to prioritize employment of their nationals for 19 categories and there are also companies experiencing difficulties,” Lagunzad said.

The government, Lagunzad said, will try to facilitate re-employment of the displaced workers or repatriate them and offer to avail themselves of the DOLE’s reintegration program.

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