MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday suspended the deployment of Filipino workers to Qatar after 7 countries severed ties and closed their borders with the kingdom.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III made the announcement a day after several Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, cut ties with Qatar on Monday accusing it of supporting extremism.
Doha, in response, denied the accusations and retaliated by saying its Gulf neighbors were seeking to put the country under "guardianship."
"We have ordered a suspension of deployment of OFWs in the country of Qatar. This is for us to assess the situation because there are so many wild rumors going around and the things are not going well in Qatar," Bello said in a press briefing.
The temporary suspension will last for an indefinite period of time, according to DOLE.
Bello said they see a possible problem in Qatar regarding food supplies since the country imports about 80 percent of its food requirements.
The tensions had people hoarding food supplies in fear of shortage.
Earlier, the Philippine Embassy advised overseas Filipino workers based in Qatar to remain calm and "exercise prudence as we all closely monitor the situation."
Filipino workers were also told to consult their travel agents and make necessary arrangements after Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines, and other regional carriers suspended flights to and from the kingdom.
In 2016, a total of 127,917 Filipino workers were deployed to Qatar. Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates there are around 220,000 Filipinos in the kingdom.