The Philippines has temporarily stopped sending workers to Qatar following its diplomatic row with five countries in the Middle East.
“We are foreseeing a possible problem in Qatar. If anything happens, they run out of food, our [overseas Filipino workers] will be the first victims,” said Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Egypt severed ties with Qatar this week over allegations that it is supporting Islamist militants.
Qatar has denied the accusation.
“There are so many wild rumors going around, saying things are not going well there,” said Bello in a statement on June 6.
The Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Philippine bishops’ conference, however, said it remains “optimistic” that the situation in Qatar will not affect Filipino workers there.
Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the commission, said Gulf countries “know and accept that Filipinos come only for work to help and improve the lives of their loved ones back home.
“Our [overseas Filipino workers] are also known there as hardworking, honest and law abiding laborers,” said the prelate.
The bishop, however, urged Filipinos in Qatar to be vigilant and always stay away from “false and violent ideologies” and denounce anything that “propagates hate and destruction.”
Some 246,000 Filipinos work in Qatar.