MANILA, Philippines - Filipino workers in Qatar are getting excellent grades for reliability, skill, industry and professionalism, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was told Saturday (Doha time).
A Malacañang statement Sunday said the "rave reviews" came from chief executive officers (CEOs) and other top officials of 27 Qatar-based companies during an "appreciation lunch" with Arroyo.
The lunch was held at the Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort on Saturday shortly upon Arroyo's arrival.
Meanwhile, Arroyo said the Philippine government is projecting only a minimal displacement of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) despite the financial crisis sweeping across the globe.
She told Filipinos at the Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort that instead of retrenching its expatriate workforce, Qatar needs 37,000 more workers.
This more than offsets the displacement of Filipino workers in other countries, she said.
With Arroyo in the trip to Qatar were secretaries Peter Favila (trade), Margarito Teves (finance), Angelo Reyes (energy), Nasser Pangandaman (agrarian reform) and presidential peace adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
Companies represented in the luncheon meeting included US-based engineering giant Bechtel Corporation, Al Ahli Hospital, Sterling Group of Companies, Midmac Contracting, and Doha Resort and Convention Center.
Bechtel Doha Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Project Manager Laremy Estrada cited Filipino workers for their reliability, industry and overall skill.
He said Filipinos were highly trainable, efficient and trustworthy. He added that 65 percent of Bechtel's workers in the construction of the new Doha International Airport are Filipinos.
Bechtel, a towering presence in the Middle East construction sector, won the contract for engineering, project and construction management of the US$2.5-billion new Doha International Airport.
When completed, the new air terminal can accommodate 24 million passengers and 750,000 metric tons of cargo annually.
Another CEO said his company would be at a loss looking for workers as reliable, hardworking and skilled as his Filipino employees.
Labor secretary Marianito Roque estimated there are 190,000 overseas Filipino workers now in Qatar.
Arroyo thanked the company officials for hiring Filipino workers and protecting their rights and privileges under the International Labor Organization (ILO) mandate.
She said the Philippine government would act immediately on problems cited by the CEOs, including delays in the registration of labor recruitment permits and the need for stepped-up training for Filipinos seeking employment abroad.
She said her administration has launched a P3-billion scholarship program to equip Filipinos with the needed expertise for frontline services not only abroad but also in the Philippines.