A Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) official on Wednesday said the “Saudization” policy has no impact yet on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to the oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
At a press conference, POEA administrator Carlos Cao said “Saudization” — a nationalization-related labor policy that directs companies to prioritize Saudi nationals in employment — will not be implemented “drastically” and “on a full scale.”
“If they move on a full-scale implementation, how can they send home the big number of migrant workers there?” Cao said, adding that the Saudization policy is “a complex and complicated policy,” which will be implemented in a “gradual and calibrated” manner.
Saudi Arabia is currently home to more than 8 million expatriates, with Filipinos comprising of about 1.2 million expatriates.
Check status of companies
Still, Filipino Migrant Workers Group chairman Francisco Aguilar Jr. advised OFWs in Saudi Arabia to “check the status of their company” and prepare for return to the Philippines.
“We advise them to determine if their company is in the yellow and red categories. If so, they can scout for other companies, which are in the green and platinum [blue] categories,” Aguilar, a former contract worker in Saudi, explained.
“It will bring no harm to them for it is clear in the Nitaqat system that those in the green and blue [categories] can get workers from the yellow and red category, even without the [no objection certificate],” he added.
Should OFWs from Saudi Arabia be displaced, Department of Labor and Employment communications director Nicon Fameronag said government will provide reintegration assistance to returning OFWs.
Cao, for his part, said OFWs from Saudi Arabia may go to other possible market destinations such as Guam, Australia, and Canada.
A recent report quoted Philippine Ambassador to Doha Cresente Relacion as saying that those to be affected by Saudization might go to Qatar. — Jovic Yee/OFW Journalism Consortium