House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is calling for the creation of a task force that will address the situation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Qatar, amid its diplomatic rift with fellow Gulf nations.
Alvarez said such task force must be formed even while the situation “has remained stable” for Filipinos in the said country.
“[O]ur government as early as now must create a task force to draw up contingency measures for the safety and welfare of the estimated 260,000 overseas Filipino workers in the area,” the Speaker said.
“The possibility that we might have to repatriate a huge number of OFWs is a daunting task by itself. Even more challenging is the need to provide them with ample financial support,” he added. “It is imperative that at this point, our government and the private sector and NGOs should work hand in hand to ensure we can provide our OFWs in Qatar the appropriate assistance when the need arises. We must not wait until it’s too late to act.”
On Monday, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Kingdom of Bahrain announced that they were severing their diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations that it supports extremists groups, including ISIS.
Alvarez urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through the Philippine Embassy in Qatar, to “remain vigilant and closely monitor the situation and adopt measures to ensure open communication lines with the Filipino community.”
“Should the situation deteriorate, the embassy must be able to provide timely advisories to avoid possible panic and ensure the safety of our OFWs,” he said. — RSJ, GMA News