Bello eyes halt of deployment to Saudi Arabia due to maltreatment of OFWs

September 30, 2021

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is considering the imposition of a deployment ban to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) due to recent incidents of maltreatment of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), its chief said Thursday.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, however, said he was still waiting for the recommendation of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s administrator Bernard Olalia regarding the matter.

“Kasi po nagpadala ako ng instruction sa kanya (Olalia) na pag-aralan ang posibilidad na mag-deployment ban sa KSA sa dami ng incident ng maltreatment ng ating mga OFWs,” Bello said over Teleradyo.

(Because I already sent an instruction to Olalia to look into the possibility of a deployment ban to KSA due to many incidents of maltreatment of our OFWs.)

Bello was referring to the incident involving a Saudi general, who allegedly physically abused OFWs while not paying their salaries.

Five of the OFWs were repatriated in September, while two of them were still in the Saudi general’s custody, according to Bello.

“Matigas ang ulo ng lintik na heneral na ito ayaw pakawalan, kaya bilang parang safeguard sa mga OFW, pinag-aaralan ko na ‘wag muna tayo magdeploy hangga’t hindi sila nagpapakita, lalo na ang pamahalaan ng KSA, na handa nilang protektahan ang mga OFW,” Bello added.

(This general is so stubborn, he does not want to let go of the OFWs, that’s why as a safeguard to OFW, I am mulling about suspending deployment until they show, especially the government of KSA, that they are ready to protect the OFWs.)

In May, DOLE imposed a deployment ban to Saudi Arabia because of a lack of “clear and expressed” guidelines on who should shoulder the cost of the quarantine expenses and insurance of migrant workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, it was lifted a day after when the Saudi government assured that foreign employers and agencies will shoulder the costs of quarantine expenses of migrant workers.