Bello: Senior labor officials, response teams off to Middle East next week
MANILA, Philippines — Senior labor officials along with rapid response teams will be dispatched to several countries in the Middle East to compel overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to return home amid escalating tension in the region, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Wednesday.
In a press briefing, Bello said Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac will be sent off to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Philippine Overseas Employment Administrator Bernard Olalia to Lebanon, and Labor Undersecretary Claro Arellano to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week.
“The purpose there for them is to inform our OFWs in those areas about the intense situation that has been created because of the US-Iran tension,” the labor secretary said.
Citing data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Bello said there are around two million documented Filipino workers in the Middle East.
“But let me emphasize the fact that these are the documented OFWs. There could be double this number if we consider the undocumented OFWs,” he added.
Bello said he has already requested other concerned government agencies to augment DOLE’s response teams “to ensure well-coordinated and safe repatriation of our OFWs in case that will be the resort that we will have to take.”
But the labor chief said Filipino workers would not be forced to return home.
Nevertheless, he said labor officials will give their “earnest effort to repatriate them.”
“If we ask them to join us in the repatriation and hindi sila makikipag-cooperate (they won’t cooperate)… magtatago sila, wala na kaming magagawa (they will hide, we can’t do anything anymore). Pero (But) we will try to compel them to join the repatriation,” he said.
Edited by KGA
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