Philippines to lift workers' deployment ban to Saudi Arabia

·2 min read
MANILA, Feb. 4, 2021 -- A construction worker is seen at the building site of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in Manila, the Philippines, Feb. 4, 2021. (PHOTO: Xinhua/Rouelle Umali via Getty Images)
MANILA, Feb. 4, 2021 -- A construction worker is seen at the building site of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in Manila, the Philippines, Feb. 4, 2021. (PHOTO: Xinhua/Rouelle Umali via Getty Images)

The Philippines' Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) will continue monitoring overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom expresses its need for more workers especially in the construction industry, an official said Thursday (Sept 15).

The Philippines is set to resume its deployment of Filipino workers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia starting November 7.

Kasi alam natin na ang mga workers sa construction sites ay nagkakaroon din ng isyu at problema sa pagpapasuweldo, sa working conditions, sa living conditions, kasi they are living in company barracks, sa construction site,” DMW Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac said in a public briefing.

(Because we know that workers in construction sites encounter issues and problems regarding their salary, working conditions, living conditions, because they are living in company barracks, in construction sites.)

So ito, may demand dito lalo na iyong kanilang vision ng pagpapaunlad ng kanilang ekonomiya, ng kanilang lipunan sa Saudi by 2030. Kaya’t napakahalaga nito at nagkakaroon, may nakikita tayong job opportunities doon, lalo na sa construction sector,” he added.

(So here, we have a demand especially in their vision to strengthen [Saudi’s] economy by 2030. So this is very important, we’re seeing job opportunities there, especially in the construction sector.)

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Saudi Arabia is the world’s top destination of OFWs, with around 470,820 based in the Kingdom as of 2020.

On Tuesday, DMW Secretary Susan "Toots" Ople announced Minister for Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) Ahmed Al-Rajhi has signed agreements with the DMW on the resumption of deployment of OFWs to the Kingdom, during the bilateral discussions between the two countries.

“We are grateful to Minister Al-Rajhi and the government of Saudi Arabia for sharing our concern for the rights of our workers. Likewise, we intend to move forward by working together on implementing mechanisms that would ensure the protection of our workers’ rights and welfare,” Ople said in a statement.

The DMW and MHRSD reportedly reached an agreement on labor measures in order to ensure the protection of rights of OFWs.

The measures include the following:

  • Constitute a Technical Working Group composed of representatives from both parties to monitor the implementation of labor reforms and jointly resolve concerns of workers;

  • Implement a Blacklist and a Whitelist of Saudi Recruitment Agencies (SRAs) and employers;

  • Revise the Standard Employment Contract of OFWs to reflect all guarantees under the Saudi Labor Reform Initiatives including insurance for unpaid wages, timely release of salaries through electronic payments, and a pre-termination clause;

  • Convene regular Joint Committee Meetings to ensure full compliance with the above agreements and address challenges in the implementation of these labor reforms; and

  • Sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on combating trafficking in persons, investigating, and prosecuting offenders, and providing support to OFW victims of trafficking in persons.

In November 2021, the Philippines stopped deploying OFWs to Saudi Arabia after reports of billions worth of unpaid wages of Filipino construction workers, among others.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her on Twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings. The views expressed are her own.

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