The temporary suspension on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has been lifted, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Saturday, May 29.
This, after the Saudi government assured DOLE that OFWs won’t be made to pay for the hefty cost of “institutional quarantine” for inbound travelers to the Kingdom.
“After receipt of the official communication from the Saudi government this morning which ensures us that the foreign employers and agencies will shoulder the costs of institutional quarantine and other COVID (coronavirus disease) protocols upon arrival in the KSA, the temporary suspension of deployment to the Kingdom is hereby lifted,” Bello said.
This means that the deployment suspension, which the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) enforced upon the directive of DOLE, only lasted one day.
“I have advised the [POEA] to immediately implement this directive and provide the necessary clearance to all our departing Filipino workers to facilitate their travel to the KSA,” Bello said.
Referring to the events Friday morning wherein hundreds of OFWs bound for KSA were offloaded from their flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the DOLE chief said: “I understand that the suspension order drew confusion and irritation among our affected departing OFWs.” “Again, I apologise for the inconvenience and momentary anguish that it may have caused our dear OFWs. It was to the best interest of our OFWs that such decision had to be made. I thank the government of KSA for acting with dispatch and giving us reassurance. Our Saudi-bound workers will no longer be disadvantaged,” Bello said.
The institutional quarantine, which includes a 10-day stay at a quarantine hotel in KSA, would reportedly cost $1,000 or 3,500 Saudi Riyal.
DOLE suspended the deployment of OFWs upon receiving complaints that the latter were being made to pay for these expenses.
The Saudi government first issued an advisory on the imposition of institutional quarantine to inbound travelers last May 11. However, Labor Attaché in Riyadh Fidel Macauyag said Friday that the directive was vague as to whether or not OFWs would shoulder the costs.