Saudi, Iran row may displace 1M Pinoy workers

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More than one million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) could lose their jobs if war breaks out between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran, labor groups warned on Thursday.

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The displacement of such a big number of Filipino workers would pose a big challenge to the government because they would add to the 11 million jobless Filipinos in the Philippines, Alan Tanjusay, spokesman for the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP-Nagkaisa), said.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are host to more than one million OFWs.

The government of Saudi Arabia cut its ties with Iran on January 2 after Riyadh’s embassy in Tehran was attacked by protesters hours after Saudi executed Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas had said remittances could be affected by escalating tensions in the Middle East.

“We may see some temporary setback because of logistical difficulties and deployment may slow,” Central Bank Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were among the major sources of cash remittances in the first 10 months of 2015.

Wilson Fortaleza, spokesman for Partido Manggagawa (PM), said the government should be prepared to help displaced workers and their families.

Tanjusay said the government should prepare for a “worst scenario” by coming up with “contingency measures including relocation, transfer and, if need be, evacuation of OFWs who might be affected in case the current political tensions spin out of control.”

On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino 3rd instructed labor and foreign officials to prepare “comprehensive contingency plans” for the OFWs who would be displaced by the Middle East crisis.

Tanjusay said aside from the sudden job displacement of OFWs, the government must also take into consideration the “lessened remittance” of OFWs and possible interruption of oil supply.

The government, Fortaleza said, should also prepare strategic measures against the “possible collapse of the petro-dollar economy because of the oil crisis.”

“And that would mean employment and livelihood programs for displaced OFWs and their families,” he added.

Malacañang also on Thursday said the country is fine-tuning contingency measures to keep more Filipinos in the Middle East safe.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. cited the need for “comprehensive contingency measures” involving various agencies.

“Kaya patuloy na pina-fine-tune at ina-update ‘yung mga plano na dati nang naihanda para tiyakin na ito ay magiging epektibo kung anuman ang sitwasyon na maganap [That’s why we are finetuning and updating plans to ensure that these will be effective],” Coloma told reporters.

So far, there is no indication that Filipinos based in Iran and Saudi Arabia are in danger.
Nevertheless, Coloma noted that Philippine embassies and consulates are ready to extend assistance to OFWs.

He said the government had demonstrated its capability to repatriate distressed OFWs from conflict-stricken areas in North Africa and the Middle East countries, such as Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

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4 Comments

  1. whats new ? this is Philippines the land of un fulfilled promises, the place of the rising sons and daughter born in love yet hard up to live strongly while in poverty with nipa hut to cover their back add rice and fish to survive .and when they flourished ,the govt , gets the credits and wealth but when they die no govt. help or officials cries only the hungry flies cover their body while waiting for mercy for the last decent trip back to homeland with in despair relatives waiting with broken heart ,hope, happiness ,and honest desire to achieved the glorious days of their lives .. the neglected and abandoned .. thank you but no thanks my wondrous useless lupang hinirang ang Pilipinas kung mahal na walang matulong ..

  2. Miguel "Bones" Contreras on

    1,000,000 plus OFWs, paano irerepatriate yan ganyan kadami? malabo pa sa sabay ng pusit. magiging cannon fodder mga kawawang OFWs. tsk.tsk.tsk.

  3. Our Embassies / Consulates worldwide, wherever they may be, have the legal and moral obligations to protect our OFW. This is the reason why the government needs to set-up contingency funds and measures to bring our OFW back home in case bullets and bombs start flying and exploding in their work areas. Over a decade ago, I personally witnessed a dead body of a Filipina OFW in Riyadh awaiting to be shipped back to the Philippines. The reason for the delay is that, the Embassy did not have enough fund, and there were no funds dedicated for this purpose. The word spread out and the Filipino community was able to collect donations and was able to sent the cadaver home.

    • Miguel "Bones" Contreras on

      legal obligation or not. they wont be able to protect 1,000,000 plus OFWs. madami matatrap kung magka-war.