MORE Filipino workers were hired and rehired by the oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia despite its “Saudization” policy meant to pressure local firms to hire Saudis instead of migrant workers, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Based on POEA data, 325,709 Filipino workers were deployed to Saudi Arabia in 2012, 2.8 percent higher than the 316,736 hired by the kingdom in 2011.
The kingdom is the biggest hirer of Filipinos. Currently, 1.5 million Filipinos are working in various industries such as agriculture, fishery, forestry, transportation, construction and many others.
According to POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, the new labor policy imposed by the Saudi government has no impact on the deployment of Filipino migrant workers.
Cacdac told The Manila Times that the new labor scheme would not have an immediate impact on the global labor market.
“Yung general effect ng Nitaqat di pa natin nararamdaman sa ngayon. Kung meron mang effect, very minimal lang. There’s no dramatic drop or increase,” he said.
The Saudi nationalization scheme or Nitaqat in Arabic directs companies to prioritize Saudi nationals in employment as part of the kingdom’s goal of creating a domestic labor force and to address the country’s unemployment problem. The program took effect in June 2011.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on Wednesday said almost 50,000 jobs are available in the Middle East and more than half of these are in Saudi Arabia.
Data released by POEA and JobStreet.com showed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has 28,295 jobs; followed by Qatar, 8,230; United Arab Emirates, 5,169; Abu Dhabi, 1,806; Dubai, 1,777; Kuwait, 1,721; Bahrain, 1,422; and Oman with 1,326.
Singapore meanwhile has 929 job openings and Papua New Guinea, 559.
These countries are looking for household service workers, drivers, dispatchers, and messengers. They also need mechanical/automotive engineers (9,221), general engineers (8,196), nurses and medical support staff (4,966), staff for manufacturing operations (5,901), food/beverage/restaurant personnel (5,324), civil/construction engineers (4,785), electrical engineers (3,848), maintenance and repair personnel (1,951) and clerical/administrative support staff (1,675).
Last year, 155,831 household service workers were deployed, followed by nurses, 15,655, waiters/bartenders, 14,892; wire–men/electricians, 10,575; char–workers/cleaners, 10,493; la–borers/helpers, 9,987; plumbers/pipe fitters, 9,657; caregivers, 9,128; welders/flame cutters, 8,213; and cooks, 6,344.
No medical attaches
The Philippines will not be sending medical attaches to Saudi Arabia despite the spread of the SARS-like coronavirus there.
Raul Hernandez, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), said no Filipinos have been affected by the outbreak.
“The Saudi rules and regulations do not allow us to send medical attaches and allow them to practice there,” he said, adding that Saudi Arabia has enough medical personnel and facilities to address the problem.
Hernandez however urged the hundreds of Filipinos camped outside the Philippine missions in Riyadh and Jeddah to seek shelter in Philippine-run facilities.
“What we really need now is for our citizens’ cooperation. Filipinos should heed the advise of the embassies and consulates and relative authorities in the host country,” Hernandez said.
“We need to work together so appropriate assistance will be extended to our compatriates. Our citizens should seek immediate medical assistance if they feel any of the symptoms,” he added.
The SARS-like coronavirus has already killed 30 people worldwide. Saudi Arabia has the highest death toll at 25 and the most number of cases at 39.
Worldwide, there are 50 cases of coronavirus, with the latest deaths recorded in a province in Saudi Arabia.
WITH A REPORT FROM CATHERINE VALENTE