Labor chief to meet with Saudi Arabia counterpart over total deployment ban threat

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2021 12:34 PM | Updated as of Oct 24 2021 01:55 PM

Watch more on iWantTFC

MANILA - Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Sunday he would meet with his counterpart from Saudi Arabia following his threat of a total ban on the deployment of Filipino migrant workers there.

Bello said he made the threat after an abusive retired general would not let three Filipino workers return home.

He added that also said he might consider recommending total workers' deployment ban on the Middle Eastern country if employers in Saudi Arabia do not pay the unpaid salaries and end-of-services pay of more than 9,000 Filipino workers.

"Sabi ko, 'pag di mo pinauwi yan, deployment ban. Siguro nagalit ang hari sa kanya. Pinauwi niya yung tatlo," Bello told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(I told them that if you don't let them come home, we will impose a deployment ban. The king must have scolded him. So, the three were allowed to go home.)

"Nalaman ng counterpart ko sa Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, nag-request siya ng meeting."

(My counterpart in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia learned about this, so he is requesting for a meeting with me.)

The labor chief said he and his counterpart would meet prior to the Asia and Middle East Labor Ministers Meeting in Dubai which both are attending. Bello said he is flying out Sunday night for the said event, and will return on Oct. 29.

The government has spent P3 billion in repatriating abused Filipino workers from Saudi Arabia, Bello said.

"Itong mga kababayan natin, as early as August 2016, isa hanggang 2 taon, hindi nagsusuweldo ang ating mga kababayan... Lahat, we repatriated them kasi wala silang makain dun, wala silang matulugan," he said.

(As early as August 2016, Filipino workers there did not receive their salaries for one to two years. We repatriated them because they have nothing to eat, nowhere to sleep.)

"Gumawa kami ng special power of attorney para 'yung abogado dun (can) file their claims before the courts. They did and they won, and hanggang ngayon di pa nababayaran."

(We gave special power of attorney to our lawyers there so they can file workers' claims before the courts. They did and they won. But until now, they've yet to be paid.)

The DOLE in late May ordered a deployment ban to Saudi Arabia after it received reports that OFWs were required by their employers or foreign recruitment agencies to shoulder the cost of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

It lifted the ban days later after the Saudi government mandated foreign employers to shoulder the costs of COVID-19 health protocols of OFWs upon arrival.