Philippines bars workers from traveling to Qatar

Lucy Bush
June 21, 2017

"W$3 e know for a fact that Qatar does not produce its own food. We need to prepare to meet the exigencies", Bello said in a news conference. "This is for their own good", Bello said.

Bello can handle the situation in Qatar.

The former labor official said the move may give the wrong diplomatic signal to Qatar. "It could reach beyond 200,000 if we include those undocumented", Bello said.

Additionally, the Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain said they were closing land, air and sea access to Qatar.

Concerns on the fate of OFWs in Qatar were raised after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates, along with Yemen and Maldives severed diplomatic ties for allegedly supporting terrorism and destabilizing peace in the region.

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"Our labor office in Qatar is ready to extend any form of assistance given the circumstances may require..."

In an advisory, Philippine Ambassador to Qatar Alan Timbayan also called on Filipinos to remain calm and exercise prudence.

"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.

Ganesh Gurung, a labor and migration expert in Kathmandu, said some Nepali truck drivers have already lost their jobs because of the closure of the Saudi-Qatar border.

The knee-jerk reaction of full suspension has apparently eased, if Bello's remarks late Wednesday were an indication: "Late last night I had a conversation with our labor attache based in Doha, Qatar and he informed that initially there were incidents of panic buying but after two or three hours the situation has normalized", he said.

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One example was the Abu Dhabi Airport Immigration's order to bar UAE nationals from traveling to Qatar. PAL said, however, it would observe guidelines issued by nations in the region.

The central bank expects remittances to grow by 4% this year as of its December estimates, although a fresh set of estimates will be released soon.

"We'll have to review the projections if that's the case, and we'll have to look at the potential impact on the remittances if indeed the deployment of workers is going to go down".

At the same time, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that assists distressed OFWs, advised more than a million Filipino workers in the Middle East to be guided by a popular slogan featured in posters and coffee mugs worldwide. "It is very premature to draw any conclusion to a news that is just unfolding".

"Qatar has the third biggest OFW population in the Middle East".

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Other reports by Info About Network

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