What did Oman do to piss off DOLE chief Bello?

Published June 16, 2021, 5:33 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III says the Philippines will no longer be sending overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Oman.

IRKED–DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III is visibly irate as he talks about Oman’s travel ban on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) during a press briefing on June 16, 2021 (Screengrab from Zoom meeting)

This was revealed by Bello Wednesday, June 16 after he learned that the Sultanate had included OFWs in its travel ban.

“Ewan ko kung bakit, imagine yung travel ban nila includes [OFWs] coming from the Philippines, including kahit hindi naman galing Pilipinas basta dumaan ng Pilipinas, kasama sa travel ban sa Oman (I don’t know why, but imagine this, they included OFWs coming from the Philippines in their travel ban, and this covers those merely transiting the Philippines),” he said during a virtual press briefing.

This means that OFWs who travel to Oman won’t get past the airports there.

“We received a communication from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the DFA also recommended to us that we will also declare a deployment ban to Oman,” Bello said.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), an attached agency of DOLE, is the one that enforces deployment bans to other countries.

“I talked to [POEA] Administrator [Bernard] Olalia and we are having an emergency meeting with the POEA governing board and we will also declare a deployment ban to Oman,” Bello said.

“Wala namang kasalanan yung ating mga OFWs, bi-nan sila sa Oman? So, sige, kung ayaw mo sa amin, ayaw namin sa ‘yo (Our OFWs didn’t commit any offense, and yet they get banned in Oman? So, fine, if you don’t like us, we don’t like you either),” the visibly irate DOLE chief said.

Oman, officially the Sultanate of Oman, is a country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia and the oldest independent state in the Arab world, according to Wikipedia. Its capital is Muscat.

The Philippines has a travel ban in effect against seven Asian and Middle East countries, including Oman. The other six are India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The ban, which will last until June 30 at the earliest, was enforced in a bid to curb the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant that originated from India.

 
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