MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is temporarily suspending the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Oman, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced on Friday.
The decision came after Oman also included the Philippines in its travel ban.
Bello said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had received a communication from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday informing them that the government of Oman had included travelers from the Philippines in its travel ban.
He said the DFA, in turn, recommended declaring a temporary suspension of deployment of OFWs as well to Oman. Bello, however, did not mention the specific reason why the Philippines also suspended the deployment to Oman and when the suspension will become effective.
“Noong isang araw, noong nagkaroon ng emergency meeting ang governing board ng Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), we decided to follow the recommendation of the DFA and we declared a temporary suspension, hindi naman ban, kundi temporary suspension of deployment ng mga OFWs sa Oman,” he told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
(The other day, when the governing board of the POEA had an emergency meeting, we decided to follow the recommendation of the DFA and we declared a temporary suspension, not a ban, for the deployment of OFWs to Oman.)
Bello said he thinks that Oman may be seeing the Philippines as a “COVID threat” that’s why they included the country in the travel restriction.
“Actually, ‘yung kanilang ban ay nag-enumerate ng mga countries and obviously ito ‘yung mga countries na mayroon ding restriction sa atin. Ang hindi ko nga maintindihan, bakit tayo dinamay, bakit tayo sinama?” he added.
(They enumerated the countries included in the travel ban and obviously these are countries that also have restrictions in the Philippines. What I don’t understand is why did they include us?)
Bello said that on Thursday, he received a call from the ambassador of the Philippines to Oman who told him that Oman’s foreign affairs minister would like to have a meeting with him.
“We are scheduled to meet tonight through Zoom and I think the intention there is for us to have a mutual lifting of the suspension,” the Labor Secretary said.
On Monday, Malacañang announced that the Philippines has extended travel restrictions for inbound travelers coming from Oman, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates until June 30.
The travel restrictions, which were earlier implemented to prevent the entry of the coronavirus variant from India, were supposed to lapse on June 15. However, as of May 26, health authorities have so far detected 13 cases of the said variant in the Philippines.