Expectations high among OFWs as Duterte visits Qatar

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 15 2017 09:07 AM

Expectations are high among overseas Filipino workers in Doha, Qatar as President Rodrigo Duterte visited the capital city for the last leg of his week-long state visits in the Gulf states.

Duterte arrived in Doha, Qatar at 9 p.m. Friday (Doha time) via PR001, a chartered flight of Philippine Airlines, for his last stop in the three-nation visit.

The President also visited Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Energy Minister Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al Sada and Attendance Minister and Chief of Protocol Abdullah Bin Ali Alsaletin welcomed the Philippine President when he arrived at Hamad International Airport.

Qatar Ambassador Alan Timbayan said President Duterte will be signing 3 agreements related to health, culture, and technical and vocational education when he meets the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, at Amiri Diwan Royal Palace on Easter Sunday.

Duterte will also have lunch with the Qatar Emir at the Banquet Hall of Royal Palace.

Doha City is home to some 220,000 Filipino workers, according to the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Of that number, 3,000 Filipino workers are classified as professionals, close to 6,000 are highly skilled, and 3,600 skilled. There are also household helpers but the embassy does not have the exact figures.

Timbayan said common problems of OFWs in Qatar are contract substitution, harassment of female workers, underpayment and delayed payment of salary and overtime pay, and employers withholding their passports.

"The expectation on the visit of the President in Doha, Qatar is quite high among the overseas workers. It is expected to boost Qatar-PH relationship to soar to the highest," he said.

The ambassador said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello will meet with Qatar Minister of Labor and possibly discuss the problems of the OFWs and how to protect them further in the future.

Timbayan said the President's visit will also produce an agreement on trade and investments.

"It is expected to open a lot of investments, because Qatar wants to diversify their investment. They are looking towards the Philippines as a good place for investment," he said.

The President will meet the Filipino community on the evening of Black Saturday. The embassy said they are expecting around 6,000 Filipinos to attend the meet.