Philippines halts sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia over Covid-19 costs

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) – The Philippines has suspended deploying workers to Saudi Arabia, its top destination for overseas labour, due to reports that migrants are being asked to shoulder costs of Covid-19 quarantine and insurance.

Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello issued an order on Thursday (May 27) halting deployment to Saudi Arabia “until further notice”, the agency’s information director Rolly Francia said in a virtual briefing on Friday (May 28).

Almost 500 workers bound for Saudi Arabia were barred from flying out on Friday, Mr Francia said. Nearly 300 of them were excluded from a Philippine Airlines flight, the carrier said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia is the most preferred destination for Philippine migrant labour, accounting for one-fifth of total overseas workers’ deployment in late 2019, according to latest data from the statistics authority.

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