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Ready contingency plans for Qatar-Mideast crisis, gov’t agencies urged

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 11:26 AM June 06, 2017

People buy snacks at a shop in Doha, on June 5, 2017.
Saudi Arabia also closed its borders with Qatar, effectively blocking food and other supplies exported by land to Qatar after Arab nations including Saudi Arabia and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism, in the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years. Local media in Qatar reported there was already some panic buying as people stock up on food.
/ AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Senator Nancy Binay on Tuesday called on all concerned Philippine government agencies in Qatar to activate contingency plans and prepare for any eventuality in the ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Middle East.

“With the ongoing tension in the Middle East, I urge the DFA, DOLE, OWWA, and POLO to prepare for any eventuality,” Binay said in a statement.

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DFA is Department of Foreign Affairs, Dole is Department of Labor and Employment; OWWA is Overseas Workers Welfare Administration while POLO is Philippine Overseas Labor Office.

“Huwag po tayong maghintay na lumala pa ang krisis, lalo pa’t posibleng maapektuhan ang ating overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at mga Filipinong nakatira sa Qatar,” she said as she assured that the government is ready to help OFWs in the Middle East.

(Let’s not wait for the crisis to worsen, especially as it may affect OFWs and Filipinos living in Qatar.)

Binay said the ongoing row between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Maldives and Qatar was a “cause for concern” especially for the thousands of OFWs there.

READ: PH to maintain diplomatic ties with Qatar – Bello

Based on the 2015 Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) data, she said, there are around 900,000 OFWs in the Middle East, 130,000 of whom are in Qatar.

The senator said it would be prudent for the government to arrange and coordinate with the Filipino community and organizations in Qatar regarding the situation of OFWs, especially regarding immediate action and possible evacuation in case the situation worsens.

Binay also called on nongovernment organizations (NGOs) helping OFWs to coordinate with the Philippine embassy in Doha as well as the labor attaché in helping Filipinos living in the Middle Eastern state.

She expressed confidence that DOLE Secretary Silvestro Bello III could handle the situation in Qatar.

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“He (Bello) is assured that we in the Senate will extend all the support he would need to make sure that our kababayans (countrymen) in Qatar are safe, especially those who are near the borders,” Binay said.

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, meanwhile, urged the DFA to find out how the rift among Arab nations could affect the OFWs there.

“The DFA should look into the effect and repercussions of such cutting of ties to our OFWs and act accordingly,” Escudero said in a text message. IDL

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TAGS: DFA, diplomatic crisis, DOLE, Middle east, Mideast, Nancy Binay, ofws, OWWA, POLO, Qatar
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