Gov't ready to help OFWs affected by Qatar diplomatic row
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Qatar that they will get help finding new employers in case they become unemployed due to the country’s diplomatic row with several of its Middle East neighbors.
“Part of the assistance is finding opportunities within other countries but it has to pass through the process, they can’t [do it] on their own,” Labor Assistant Secretary Amuerfina Reyes said Monday, June 19.
Reyes reminded Filipino migrant workers that proper hiring processes must be observed to properly document the transfer of workers for better tracking.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier imposed a deployment moratorium on OFWs bound for Qatar after countries Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Egypt cut their ties with the Gulf nation. Qatar has been accused of supporting terrorists, something it has denied.
DOLE lifted the moratorium last June 15, explaining that the Philippine Overseas Employment Office (POLO) in Doha said the situation there is back to normal.
They are also coordinating with Qatari authorities on assisting distressed OFWs there, like household workers whose non-Qatari employers would be forced to leave the country.
Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain have told their citizens to leave Qatar after the cutting of diplomatic ties last June 5, and gave Qatar nationals in their countries 14 days to leave. The deadline falls this Monday.
OFW advocate Susan Ople said domestic workers there fear abandonment once their employers leave.
The Qatar government, she said, has informed OFWs and other foreign nationals that they will be allowed to transfer to another employer as long as they have their legal documents and permanent IDs.
Asked about intervention for undocumented Filipino workers there, Reyes said they too will be given assistance but they are encouraged to go to the embassies or the POLOs.
“Those undocumented or irregular migrants that we mentioned earlier, they go to our POLO. And we encourage them to go to our POLOs for assistance or at the embassy,” said Reyes in a mix of English and Filipino.
“If you are documented, it is lot easier for the government to track you, to trace you in case [of] need and to provide you the necessary intervention,” she added.
According to the DOLE executive, POLOs in the Middle East region are coordinating with each other as they expect this particular crisis to happen.
So far, Reyes said they haven’t received reports on the transfer of OFWs from one country to another.
As of 2016, there are around 245,806 OFWs in Qatar. Data from teh Overseas Workers Welfare Administration puts the number of newly hired domestic workers who flew to Qatar at 22,877. (READ: FAST FACTS: How big is the Filipino community in Qatar?) – Rappler.com