DOLE lifts ban on Filipino workers deployment to Qatar

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 15) - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Thursday lifted the suspension on deploying Filipino workers to Qatar, as the situation among Arab states in the Persian Gulf has "normalized."

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III consulted with the Foreign Affairs Department concerning the lifting of the suspension, the DOLE said in a statement. The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) also recommended the measure.

"This decision was arrived at on the advice of Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano and upon the recommendation of Qatar POLO following their assessment of the situation in the gulf state," Bello said in the statement.

The Labor Department imposed the suspension on deployment of all Filipino workers on June 6, when seven Middle Eastern nations led by Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, which they accused of supporting terrorism and extremism.

READ: DOLE suspends OFW deployment to Qatar

The day after however, it lifted the ban on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with existing contracts, direct hires, and returning workers, as these groups protested, claiming the move was an overreaction from government. Those with pending applications were still covered by the suspension.

"Labor Attaché David Des Dicang and the Philippine Embassy even requested the deployment of newly-hired workers to Qatar, particularly to the Philippine School Doha and Philippine International School-Qatar," the statement added.

The resumption of deployment was needed so Philippine schools in Qatar could continue their operations, Dicang said in the statement.

It added 79 new teachers and 20 bus drivers have pending applications with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

READ: DOLE lifts deployment ban for OFWs with existing contracts, direct hires to Qatar

"POLO is also continuously coordinating with the Qatari authorities to discuss possible difficulties regarding the repatriation of distressed OFWs," the DOLE statement said.

The Qatari government has ensured the safety of some 240,000 Filipinos in Qatar.

"OFWs in Qatar have expressed confidence for their safety with the strengthened efforts of the Labor Department and other concerned government agencies in ensuring their basic welfare and security amid the diplomatic crisis,” the labor department said.