MANILA - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should allow the departure of Saudi Arabia-bound workers whose foreign employers are willing to shoulder the costs of COVID-19 protocols set by the Saudi government, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center said in a statement Friday.
“We appeal to Labor Secretary Bello to exempt OFWs with kind-hearted employers who committed to pay for the additional costs of deployment due to Saudi Arabia’s quarantine and swab testing requirements from the temporary ban. Since their employers are willing to pay the additional costs and all the POEA requirements have already been complied with, why not let these OFWs leave so they can help provide for their families’ needs?” said Susan Ople, head of the policy center.
Ople said these workers already went through the hiring process and have overseas employment certificates (OECs) issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) as well as working visas issued by the Saudi embassy.
“We are referring here to skilled workers, who are the breadwinners of the family. It would be so unfortunate if they lose the chance to earn a good salary despite having an employer willing to defray the costs of COVID19 health protocols in Saudi Arabia because of this blanket temporary ban,” she said.
Ople said industry leaders also issued the same call to allow workers with working visas to leave the country as long as their recruitment agencies submit a duly-notarized document confirming the employers’ willingness to shoulder the ticket, COVID-19 health insurance and facility quarantine in Saudi Arabia.
The Ople Center also appealed to DOLE and POEA to initiate tripartite consultations with stakeholders from both the private sector and civil society to discuss the issue and other matters related to COVID-19 health protocols.
On Friday, many workers bound for Saudi were stranded at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after a DOLE memorandum was issued on Thursday ordering the POEA to temporary suspend OFW deployment to Saudi Arabia.