Philippines Halts Sending Migrant Workers to Saudi Arabia

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

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

Almost 500 workers bound for Saudi Arabia were barred from flying out on Friday, 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 labor, accounting for one-fifth of total overseas workers’ deployment in late 2019, according to latest data from the statistics authority.

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