DOLE seeks more funds for repatriation of distressed OFWs in Middle East

UNTV News   •   December 1, 2017   •   4867

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III personally talked to the lawmakers to add more funds for the Department’s efforts to repatriate more than 200,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Qatar.

“We are requesting Congress to give us P850-million for the possible repatriation expense and another P200-P300 million for reintegration because when we bring them back we cannot afford to leave them unassisted,” Bello said.

This is in the event that the geopolitical situation in the Arab nations further worsens. – UNTV News & Rescue

Filipino household workers not yet covered by labor reforms in Saudi Arabia — DFA official

Marje Pelayo   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government is in talks with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) as regards cooperation on the welfare and benefits of Filipino household workers there, Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Robert Borje said on Thursday.

The Kingdom, he said, is currently implementing labor reforms, however, these do not cover Filipino household workers.

“Mas paiigtingin ang pag-uusap ng Pilipinas at ng KSA kung ano pa ang dapat gawin,” said Borje at Thursday’s Laging Handa press briefing.

“Sa ngayon nga po hindi pa kasama ang household workers natin sa category ng reform, labor reform initiative ng Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pero kasama po ito sa kanilang prayoridad. Iyon po ang kanilang assurance sa atin noong nakausap po natin sila,” he added.

In his speech at the 76th UN General Assembly on Wednesday (September 22), President Rodrigo Duterte renewed his call to abolish the ‘kafala system’ or the sponsorship system being imposed in the Arab states used to monitor migrant unskilled workers.

Duterte maintained that “nothing can justify its continued existence.”

Nevertheless, Borje said the government is working continuously to achieve the needed reforms for the protection of Filipino migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.

“Asahan po ninyo na through the [Department of Labor and Employment] and the Department of Foreign Affairs [DFA] ay gagawain po ang lahat upang maayos at mabigyan ng karampatang atensyon ang reporma,” the official said.

Philippines added to Qatar’s list of ‘special risk’ COVID-19 countries

Marje Pelayo   •   August 31, 2021

Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health has listed the Philippines among countries under the “special risk” category in the Arab state’s COVID-19 travel list.

The list was posted on Qatar’s official agency websites – the Ministry of Public Health of Qatar (MOPH) and its primary health care provider Hamad Medical Corporation.

The Philippines is among six countries which Qatar labeled with special risk in terms of threat of COVID-19 infection along with the following:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka

According to Qatar’s travel policy, travelers from these countries are required to follow additional rules:

– Those vaccinated/recovering from COVID-19 in the State of Qatar are subject to a two-day hotel quarantine and are allowed to leave the hotel on the second day if the result of the PCR test is negative.

– The rest of the people are subject to a hotel quarantine for a period of 10 days.​

Meanwhile, passengers coming from countries in other categories will have to pre-register in the State’s Ehteraz website (www.ehteraz.gov.qa) for other arrival requirements.

Generally, Qatar classifies COVID-19 risks into three levels – green, yellow and red.

The Arab state added a category for countries flagged as “Special Risk Six-Country Zone” which includes the Philippines.

“The Ministry of Public Health would like to remind everyone to follow the official website of the Ministry for details of the travel lists of Countries Based on Categorization of COVID-19 Risk,” the HMC reminded.

 

Afghanistan Crisis: OFWs escape to Dubai, Qatar with help from employers

Marje Pelayo   •   August 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Relatives of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Afghanistan confirmed with UNTV that their family members have reached Dubai safely after narrowly escaping the unrest in the Taliban-controlled country.

From Dubai, they are expected to return home to the Philippines soon.

On Tuesday (August 18), 35 Filipinos arrived in the Philippines from Afghanistan.

Based on records of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), there are around 130 Filipinos in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Joseph Glenn Gumpal, who acts as president of the Samahang Pilipino in Afghanistan, said 11 more Filipinos have already made it to Qatar with the help of their employers.

UNTV was able to get in touch with other stranded Filipinos in Afghanistan whose fates remain uncertain after a series of flight cancellations.

Among them is Rio Adrias, who confirmed that they are in constant communication with the Philippine Embassy in Pakistan which has jurisdiction over Filipinos in the Afghan country.

The only problem, Rio said, was that the chartered flight that they were supposed to board on Tuesday was canceled and they were told that they would need to take a commercial flight.

“Hindi pa rin po namin malaman kung kailan makakalapag ang eroplano dito sa Kabul kasi puno pa rin po ng tao ang Kabul airport. Hindi pa rin po lumilikas nasa 10,000 Afghan po ang naghihintay [na] doon na po natutulog,” she said.

Rio is one of the 24 Filipinos currently staying in a shelter some distance away from Kabul airport.

As for their personal needs, Rio said they still have enough supply for several days.

They also worry, however, for the safety of other Filipinos stranded in areas with no access to food and proper lodging.

“Sa pamilya ko, huwag kayong mag-alala ako’y nakakangiti pa pero ako’y naiiyak. Pero doon po sa gobyerno po natin sana po talaga una, matulungan nyo kaming mailikas talaga dito kaming lahat na gustong umuwi kasi talagang ang hirap,” Rio said asking for government support.

“Hindi safe. Hindi kami okay. Hindi namin ma-explain yung pakiramdam namin dito,” she added.

Rio said if she makes it back to the Philippines, she would never go back to Afghanistan.

All she asks for is a livelihood support from the Philippine government in recognition for their contribution to the country’s economy. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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