DOLE and POEA Agree to Lift OFW Deployment Ban to Saudi Arabia
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) have lifted the temporary deployment ban of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to Saudi Arabia.
The agencies also assured OFWs that they will cover the cost of pandemic protocol requirements.
DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III directed POEA to immediately provide the necessary clearance to all departing OFWs to facilitate their travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
Bello stated, “I understand that the suspension order drew confusion and irritation among our affected departing OFWs. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience and momentary anguish that it may have caused our dear OFWs.”
He noted that the temporary deployment ban was in the best interest of OFWs and such a decision had to be made.
He expressed, “I thank the government of KSA for acting with dispatch and giving us reassurance. Our Saudi-bound workers will no longer be disadvantaged.”
On Friday, May 28, DOLE had implemented the suspension amid reports that OFWs were required to shoulder the cost of their institutional quarantine, insurance coverage, COVID-19 tests, and other protocols in KSA.
This was contrary to the POEA Memorandum Circular No. 1-2021, stating that the licensed Philippine recruitment agencies and the principals/employers of the OFWs should be responsible for the cost of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
POEA Administrator Bernardo Olalia clarified through a public briefing on Saturday, May 29, that the KSA government travel advisory that took effect on May 20 excludes OFWs. This means they should not be the ones to pay for the COVID-19 requirements.
Olalia added that DOLE was only prompted to suspend to protect OFWs as they received reports of violations of the POEA memorandum in KSA.