Oil crisis, prioritizing of Saudi nationals for employment displace 600+ OFWs in Qatar

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By William Casis | FilAm Star Correspondent

Due to a prevailing diplomatic crisis among Arab countries, more than 600 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Qatar have lost their jobs and more may suffer the same, said Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Sec. Silvestre Bello III Last February 5.

He noted that the prevailing diplomatic crisis between Qatar and other Middle East countries has led to closures of companies and re-trenchment of hundreds of Filipino workers.

He said the situation in Qatar seems to be getting worse. He also said the high number of displacements among Filipino workers in Qatar is now a cause of concern for the Philippine government.

“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.

The Filipino community leader, Bello said, has warned 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.

For his part, 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,” he 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 said the minimal displacement of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia is 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.

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

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