Dole partially lifts ban on deployment to Qatar

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III answers a reporter’s question on deployment of Filipino workers to Bahrain in a news conference of Cabinet workers who accompanied President Rodrigo Duterte to the kingdom on Good Friday, April 14, 2017. (Photo from a video by the President Communications Operations Office)

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The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday announced the partial lifting of the deployment suspension of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Qatar.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III,  however, clarified that the suspension was lifted only for workers with Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC) and those returning to their jobs in Qatar.

An OEC is a document issued  by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to OFWs before they are allowed to work abroad.

Those with pending applications are still not allowed to be deployed, he said, adding that the POEA has suspended the processing of workers bound for Qatar.

According to Bello, the lifting of the suspension came after the crisis committee, which he formed to monitor the situation in Qatar, made the recommendation after getting updates from the  Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Qatar.

“They reached a consensus to lift the temporary suspension until further assessment of the situation in Qatar,” Bello said.

“The Embassy of Qatar assured us that there is an oversupply of food and our workers are safe there,” he added, saying the Embassy of Qatar sent a letter to the DOLE requesting him to reconsider his decision after suspending the deployment of workers.

Some 300 OFWs with OECs were able to leave for Qatar following the lifting of the moratorium, the POEA said.

Bello said he has directed the Polo in Qatar to submit an hourly report on the situation there which the crisis committee will analyze.

He said he initially suspended deployment of OFWs to Qatar as a preemptive move after receiving reports of panic buying in the oil rich country.

“The situation in Qatar as of this morning has already normalized and there is no more panic buying based on the report from our Labor Office in Doha, so the committee decided on the lifting of the suspension,” Bello explained.

While the government has partially lifted the suspension, Bello said, the Polo in Qatar still has contingency measures, including possible repatriation of Filipinos in case the situation worsens./rga


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