Philippines resumes sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia

Manila: The Philippines resumed deploying workers to Saudi Arabia, a day after suspending the practice because of reports that Filipinos were being asked to pay for COVID-19 quarantine and insurance costs.

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The Saudi government has ensured that employers and recruitment agencies will shoulder such expenses upon arrival, Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello said in a statement on Saturday. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration will grant clearances for all workers going to the Middle East country, he said.

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On Friday, almost 500 workers bound for Saudi Arabia were stopped from flying out. “The suspension order drew confusion and irritation. I apologise for the inconvenience and momentary anguish that it may have caused our overseas Filipino workers,” Bello said.

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Saudi Arabia is the Philippines’ top destination for migrant labour, accounting for a fifth of workers’ deployment in late 2019, according to government data.

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