De Lima urges gov’t: Assess impact of Qatar diplomatic crisis to OFWs
Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Saturday urged the government to assess its readiness to respond to any possible negative impact on Filipinos in the Middle East, arising from the continued diplomatic row between Qatar and neighboring countries.
“In view of the diplomatic tension, there is a need to look into the preparedness of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), including the embassies and consulates abroad, to provide assistance to OFWs in the event that the diplomatic crisis worsens and compromises the safety of OFWs and their families,” De Lima said in filling Senate Resolution No. 406.
The senator noted the urgency to anticipate any worst-case scenario should tension drags on indefinitely, including the possible repatriation of OFWs deployed in the Arabian peninsula.
Economists predicted that a protracted diplomatic spat among and between member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) could result in serious economic and political problems in the region, which may affect an estimated 250,000 OFWs in Qatar.
Qatar is one of the top destinations for OFWs, considered as the fourth biggest and fastest growing group of foreign workers, De Lima said.
According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, there is a strong demand for OFWs in Qatar, notably in the field of construction as the Arabian country prepares its hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
De Lima said the DOLE and DFA should now be put to task to provide support to OFWs in Qatar, including finding possible employment opportunities once they decide to return to the country.
“The DOLE and DFA must also provide constant assessments of the existing situations through the country’s embassies and consulates with a great sense of urgency and be ready to implement contingency measures, including possible repatriation and reintegration,” she said. — Ted Cordero/LBG, GMA News