The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Saturday lifted the temporary suspension of deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
This, after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III received official communication from the Saudi government that foreign employers and agencies will shoulder the costs of institutional quarantine and other COVID-19 protocols upon arrival in the KSA.
In a letter, KSA Ambassador to the Philippines Abdullah Al Bussairy told the Labor chief that under the Saudi’s labor system and legislative procedures, “the employer is obligated to shoulder all government costs and fees, including institutional quarantine and insurance, or as required in the recruitment contract between the employer and the company or Recruitment Agency.”
READ: Letter of Saudi Arabia Ambassador to the Philippines Abdullah Al Bussairy to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III informing him that Saudi government is mandating OFWs’ employers to shoulder costs of institutional quarantine and insurance. pic.twitter.com/KCuXyoKh5Q— Ted Cordero (@Ted_Cordero) May 29, 2021
Therefore, Bello said, “[T]he temporary suspension of deployment to the Kingdom is hereby lifted.”
“I have advised the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to immediately implement this directive and provide the necessary clearance to all our departing Filipino workers to facilitate their travel to the KSA,” the Labor chief said.
READ: DOLE order lifting the temporary suspension of deployment of OFWs to Saudi Arabia. pic.twitter.com/PIMaSS7tLb— Ted Cordero (@Ted_Cordero) May 29, 2021
“I understand that the suspension order drew confusion and irritation among our affected departing OFWs,” he added.
On Friday, the DOLE temporarily suspended the deployment of OFWs to KSA amid reports that OFWs are being required by their employers/foreign recruitment agencies to shoulder the costs of the health and safety protocol for COVID-19 and insurance coverage premium upon their entry in the Middle Eastern country.
The Labor chief explained that the rationale behind the deployment suspension is to ensure that OFWs will not be financially burdened by the protocol since they are being required to shoulder the cost of the entire 10-day quarantine.
He said that the cost of 10-day quarantine is estimated to be as much as $3,500.
The sudden issuance of such an order, however, caused hundreds of OFWs bound for KSA to be stranded at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as they were not allowed to board their flights.
“Again, I apologize for the inconvenience and momentary anguish that it may have caused our dear OFWs. It was to the best interest of our OFWs that such decision had to be made,” Bello said.
“I thank the government of KSA for acting with dispatch and giving us reassurance. Our Saudi-bound workers will no longer be disadvantaged,” he added.
Saudi Arabia is the top destination for Filipinos who want to work overseas, with one out of five (22.4%) OFWs worked in the country from April to September 2019, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed. —KG/MDM, GMA News