MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) partially lifted the suspension of deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Qatar on Wednesday, June 7, a day after the ban was imposed.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Bello said DOLE’s Crisis Committee decided to lift the deployment suspension for OFWs who are just returning to Qatar and those who already have an overseas employment certificate (OEC) issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). All with OECs, whether returning to Qatar or new hires, will be allowed to depart.
Bello said, however, that OFWs whose papers are still for processing remain covered by the deployment ban.
“The consensus [of the Crisis Committee] was to lift the temporary moratorium or suspension of deployment of OFWs to Qatar particularly doon sa Balik Manggagawa at saka iyong mga meron nang OEC (those part of Balik Manggagawa and those who already have their OEC),” the DOLE chief said.
The Crisis Committee for Qatar is headed by Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say, with Labor Undersecretary Bernard Olalia and officials from the POEA and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) as members.
The committee, in consultation with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Qatar, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and other stakeholders, will continue to monitor the situation in Qatar.
POEA Acting Administrator Aristodes Ruaro, meanwhile, clarified that the processing of papers and OECs will continue, but the documents will not be released while the situation in Qatar is still being monitored.
OFWs’ safety ‘guaranteed’
The partial lifting came as DOLE faced criticism over the suspension, which some said was “prematurely” announced. (READ: DOLE urged to lift suspension of OFW deployment to Qatar)
Bello earlier ordered the suspension, saying DOLE wants to protect OFWs from potential problems such as a food shortage in Qatar.
Qatar is currently in a diplomatic row with other Middle Eastern countries.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Egypt had cut ties with Qatar last Monday, June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
Bello on Wednesday said the POLO in Qatar reported the situation there remains normal.
The Qatari government also gave him “101%” assurance that Filipino migrant workers will be protected.
“They guaranteed the safety of our OFWs. There will be no food shortage… They told us, ‘Don’t worry, everything is fine,'” said Bello.
There are around 245,806 OFWs in Qatar. Filipinos are among the largest groups of foreign workers there. (READ: FAST FACTS: How big is the Filipino community in Qatar?) – Rappler.com