All's well that ends well: PH to lift OFW deployment ban to Oman

The Philippine government will soon allow the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Oman again now that Filipino and Omani officials have managed to smooth things out on the matter of travel restrictions.

Muscat, capital of Oman. (Photo by Mayur / Unsplash)

According to Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard Olalia, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III had a meeting with the Omani ambassador on Monday, June 21, and "came to an understanding".

It was Bello who ordered the POEA to impose a temporary suspension on the deployment of OFWs to Oman after he learned that the Sultanate had banned the entry of travelers coming from the Philippines, including OFWs.

“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 in a June 16 virtual press briefing. Two days later, the POEA issued the temporary deployment ban.

But the ban may not last for too long, Olalia said Tuesday, June 22. "Doon po sa pagpupulong na yun nagkaliwanagan (They came to an understanding during the meeting)." "Pinaliwanag po ng Oman government through the ambassador na hindi nila intensyon na harangin yung pagpasok o yung entry ng ating mga OFWs at Filipino travelers going to Oman (The Oman government, through the ambassador, explained that it wasn't their intention to prevent the entry of OFWs or Filipino travelers going to Oman)," Olalia said during the Laging Handa press briefing.

"At ipinaliwanag din ng ating secretary na for practical reasons naman yung deployment suspension, temporary lang po, dahil sa ipinalabas na labor advisory ng Oman government (The secretary also explained that the deployment suspension was only temporary and that it was only enforced for practical reasons after the Oman government issued its labor advisory)," he added.

"At dahil po nagkaliwanagan na, nagkaroon po kami ng pagpipirma, ng undertaking na ili-lift na po ng Omani government yung pong kanilang restriction to travel ng ating OFWs at Filipino travelers going to Oman (And since everything has been cleared up, we made a signing saying that the Omani government would lift its travel restrictions on OFWs and Filipino travelers going to Oman)," the POEA chief further said.

In return, the Philippines will also lift its temporary suspension on Oman-bound OFWs.

"Sa madaling salita po, pagka po nagkaroon na ng lifting sa Oman, at tayo ay nag-lift na, ora mismo, makakapagpadala na po tayo ng OFWs muli sa Oman (In other words, once Oman lifts its travel restriction and we lift our deployment ban, we can immediately start sending OFWs to Oman again)," explained Olalia.

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.

Olalia bared that 5,000 Filipinos were sent to work in Oman from January to May this year.