The Philippine Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) praised Qatar’s recent historic reforms, including the abolishment of the kafala system.
Qatar’s recent abolition of the kafala system has been praised by an official from The Philippines who said it would greatly benefit Filipino workers in the country.
In a virtual media forum, held at the DOLE Office in Manila on Wednesday, DOLE’s Secretary, Silvestre Bello III said the reforms will pave the way for his country’s citizens to seek jobs in Qatar.
“Qatar has already been a good destination for OFWs even before the kafala was abolished and this recent labour reform by the state would further attract more OFWs to work here,” the Filipino representative said.
Doha is the fourth-largest host of Filipino workers in the Middle East, with a population of at least 240,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), with more than 90,000 employed as household workers.
In August, Qatar introduced a non-discriminatory minimum wage of at least QR1,000 and removed the No-Objection Certificate requirements to change jobs for employees, a major step forward in its labour reform programme.
“They like our workers because they are very hardworking, trustworthy, diligent and very competent. The most preferred medical workers around the world are the Filipino nurses,” he said. “[OFWs are] modern-day heroes who give a massive contribution to the Philippine economy and our reputation in the world of work,” he added.
Phillippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte recognised the importance of his country’s workers and allocated a PHP 5 billion fund for the repatriation of OFWs, while providing all types of transportation, accommodation, food and medicine.
However, OFWs have been affected by the recent COVID-19 pandemic since the country temporarily banned the deployment of its workers.
“We just need to ensure that their destination has low COVID-19 contamination because we don’t want them exposed to the pandemic. The most important thing is we have a market for our OFWs,” he said.
He also clarified that those affected by COVID-19 can benefit from the $200 cash assistance allocated for workers who are still abroad and those who are already back in the Philippines. Bello clarified that there are exemptions accompanying the recent restrictions, saying that those who have completed their documents as of August 31 are allowed to work abroad.