Alternative sources of livelihood are being readied for overseas Filipino workers who may be affected by the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to stop hiring Filipino and Indonesian workers, Malacañang said Saturday.
But deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also defended the government’s supposedly strict labor requirements that triggered the ban, stressing that the Philippines’ policies on sending domestic helpers abroad are meant to protect the workers.
“Kung hindi magkaayos, meron tayong alternative markets. Confident tayo na ma-absorb ang gusto pumunta ng Saudi Arabia. Ang iba, may programa ang DOLE na Balik-Pinay na livelihood training and assistance doon sa maaapektuhan kung sakaling matuloy talaga ang ban,” she said on government-run dzRB radio.
In the meantime, Valte said Philippine officials will continue to seek clarifications from Saudi Arabia officials on who are covered by host country’s new policy.
She said one point of clarification is whether the new policy applies only to new hires or those who had already worked there and want to return.
Another is if the policy also applies to gardeners and drivers.
In issuing the ban, Saudi Arabia cited the strict requirements set by the two labor-sending countries.
Hattab Bin Saleh Al-Anzi, a spokesman for the KSA Ministry of Labor, said his agency was to stop issuing work visas for domestic workers from the Philippine and Indonesia on July 2.
Philippine labor attaché Albert Valenciano said the embassy sent a note verbale to the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 19, requesting to hold a joint follow-up meeting, but there has been no response so far.
PHL defends policies
In defending the Philippine government’s supposedly “strict rules” for sending its workers abroad, Valte said: “Those laws were put in place for the protection of our migrant workers,” she said.
An Arab News report said the Saudi side wants the Philippine government to alter a requirement in labor contracts that Saudi employers must sign before hiring Filipino domestic workers.
New contracts made by Manila requires foreign employers to pay a minimum wage of $400 a month.
Also, the Saudi Arabia side expressed reservations on tighter restrictions imposed by Manila, which calls on employers to provide family information and the layout of the residence where the domestic worker will be working.
Philippine government estimates show there are more than 1.2 million Filipinos working in the Kingdom, of which about 15 percent or 180,000 are domestic workers such as maids and drivers. — LBG, GMA News