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Filipinos in Qatar urged to keep calm

Senator Cynthia A. Villar urged yesterday the more than 200,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Qatar to keep calm and get in touch with the Philippine Embassy in Doha on any concerns arising from the diplomatic row between Qatar and other Gulf states.

Villar noted that Qatar is an oil-producing country with sufficient financial resources to look after its citizens and their workers.

The lady senator said many OFWs are happy in Qatar because of good rapport with its employers.

Filipino workers make up the fourth biggest migrant population in Qatar and are currently estimated to number around 270,000.

Seven Arab countries have announced their decision to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar citing Doha’s alleged support for extremist groups.

The Gulf countries also announced plans to cut air and sea traffic to Qatar.

Villar advised the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to put together a contingency plan that would address concerns regarding potential food shortages, limited air, land and sea travel, as well as escalating costs of living that would affect OFWs and their families back home.

“We also need to consider the Filipinos working for Qatari-owned companies in the Philippines and elsewhere such as Qatar Airways, which is the second biggest air carrier in the Gulf region. A prolonged diplomatic crisis would not be favorable to the profitability of these companies,” she said.

Villar stressed the need for OFWs to save and invest their money well because there are too many external factors that could affect their jobs overseas. (MARIO B. CASAYURAN)