Ople not keen on lifting deployment ban to Saudi Arabia

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 22) — Incoming Migrant Workers Secretary Susan "Toots" Ople is not keen to recommend the lifting of deployment ban for newly hired domestic helpers to Saudi Arabia.

In an interview with the Business Mirror on Wednesday, Ople said that both the Philippine and Saudi government should iron out issues first before lifting the policy -- a suggestion that aims to protect newly hired overseas Filipino workers.

"We value our long-standing friendship with Saudi Arabia. We will have to initiate bilateral talks with them regarding this (as) we cannot lift the ban without certain assurances," Ople noted.

Ople reminded that it's also important to understand the effect of the ban to both sides and come up with realistic solutions.

"We will explore diplomatic solutions," Ople added.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello ordered a ban on the deployment of newly hired household service workers in November 2021 to pave the way for a technical working group to craft new rules for deployment.

Bello also slammed the failure of the Saudi government to pay the wages and benefits of some 10,000 OFWs in Saudi Arabia which amounts to over ₱4 billion.

The ban was also prompted by reports of abusive employers victimizing Filipino domestic helpers.

Migrant Workers Secretary Abdullah Mama-o tried to lift the deployment ban, but Bello issued a memo reiterating that the ban is still in effect.