Bello: Repatriation is mandatory for Filipinos in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon

(Eagle News)–The mandatory repatriation applies to Filipinos in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

Bello made the confirmation as he announced an alert level 4 was already hoisted over the three countries, following the US killing of top Iranian military official Qassam Soleimani.

Philippine Overseas Employment Agency administrator Bernard Olalia said the POEA will convene this Friday to issue the resolution declaring the total deployment ban on OFWs to those countries.

Bello said next week, some senior labor officials and rapid response teams will also head to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon and United Arab Emirates for a possible repatriation there.

“The purpose for them is to inform the OFWS in those areas about the tense situation that has been created because of the US-Iran tension. They will bring with them (the teams) so that they could immediately brief the OFWS of the situation and the action of our department together to ensure a well-coordinated and safe repatriation of our OFWs in case that will be the resort that we will take,” Bello said.

According to Bello, the P100 million repatriation fund will be used for this.

He said the money will be “delegated to the different Philippine Overseas Labor offices in those countries that I mentioned kaya wala tayong problema sa pagkain at medisina.”

As for the OFWs in Iran and Iraq where there are no labor attachés, he said  the Department of Foreign Affairs and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu are directly in charge of them.

He gave the assurance the repatriated OFWs will have job opportunities.

“We are already fast-tracking our negotiation with alternative countries where we could deploy them, China, Russia, Canada, Germany, Japan. That is the reason why we also have profile of our OFWs so alam na natin kung saan sila dadalhin,” he said.

He said DOLE and other government agencies also had alternative livelihood programs for them.

According to DOLE, there are more than 2 million OFWs in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon and Israel, but the number could be doubled because of undocumented OFWs.Moira Encina