Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Sunday called on President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to swiftly assist the hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced due to the continued diplomatic row between Qatar and its neighboring countries.
De Lima specifically addressed her call to the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), saying the agencies should not only assist OFWs’ repatriation, but also their reintegration.
“It is in these most challenging times that Dole and DFA are expected to exemplify preparedness in providing assistance to overseas Filipino workers, including possible repatriation and reintegration,” she said in a statement.
“The government should ensure that OFWs would be assisted in finding decent jobs back home or other overseas destinations, if not help them set up business and livelihood in the country,” she added.
De Lima said Dole earlier confirmed that more than 600 Filipino workers in Qatar recently lost their jobs, with most of them coming from Saudi-owned companies.
It may be recalled that Saudi Arabia and six other Arab nations have severed their diplomatic ties with Qatar, which they accused of allegedly supporting and financing Islamic extremist groups.
Qatar is one of the top destinations for OFWs, who are currently considered as the fourth biggest and fastest growing group of foreign workers, the senator said.
To ensure a more inclusive future for OFWs, De Lima also urged the Senate leadership to act on her pending Senate Resolution No. 406, which called for the government to assess the impact of Qatar diplomatic crisis to OFWs who are residing or working in Arab countries
“The safety of OFWs and their families should be the government’s top priority and must never be compromised due to the crisis,” she said.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 406, De Lima noted the urgency to anticipate any worst-case scenario should tension linger on indefinitely, including the possible repatriation of OFWs deployed in the Arabian Peninsula. /cbb