OFWs 'stable' after Saudi oil attacks – Bello

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Tuesday, September 17, assured the public no Filipino workers were hurt in drone attacks which crippled Saudi Arabia's oil facilities last Saturday, September 14.

"We have two labor attachés monitoring the situation and fortunately, walang Pilipino na na-injure (no Filipinos have been injured)," Bello said, adding the situation for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remained "normal" so far.

Bello said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was closely coordinating with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which was responsible for assessing the safety of Filipinos in the Gulf state. He gave assurances DOLE was ready to repatriate OFWs should conditions worsen in Saudi Arabia.

“We are coordinating with the DFA on the development of the situation for constant assessment. But we are ready for any eventual repatriation to ensure the safety and security of OFWs, or help them secure employment in the other areas,” Bello said. 

Apart from this, Bello added that no work disruption involving OFWs has been reported so far.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr earlier warned that the Philippines will be "deeply" affected by attacks on Saudi state-run oil facilities, saying '"oil shortage or steep rise in oil price will rock the Philippine boat and tip it over." (READ: Drone strikes on Saudi Arabia ripple across oil market, diplomacy)

Energy officials said the effects of the attacks on Saudi oil plants have yet to be felt in the Philippines as supplies remain sufficient.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is among the top destinations for OFWs with 24.3% of the total 2.3 million OFWs worldwide working in the Gulf state, according to a 2018 survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

According to DOLE, some 50,000 Filipinos work in areas affected by the attack on oil facillities. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.