MANILA— The Philippines will try to resolve unpaid salaries of overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia through negotiations before it resorts to a proposed deployment ban, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello will head to the Middle East later this month to discuss the issue with his Saudi counterparts, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said.
"Dadaanin po muna ng aking BFF na si Secretary Bello sa usapin itong bagay na ito," Roque said when asked if President Rodrigo Duterte would approve a deployment ban on Saudi Arabia.
(My BFF, Secretary Bello, will first try to fix this by talking it out.)
Bello earlier Thursday said he asked the President to consider the deployment ban because some 9,000 workers in Saudi Arabia have yet to receive one or two years' worth of their pay.
"Kung hindi nila babayaran ‘yan (if they cannot pay that), there is no use sending our overseas workers," he said in a televised public briefing.
The Philippines in 2019 had around 2.2 million migrant workers, whose remittances serve as lifeline to the Philippine economy, according to government data.
Saudi Arabia was the most preferred destination of overseas Filipino workers, hosting 22.4 percent of OFWs.