Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
It is puzzling to note that the Department of Labor and Employment has recently focused on the program of the Saudi Arabian government that calls for the hiring of more of its people, and decreasing the number of foreign workers, especially those from Asian countries, among them the Philippines.The program, known to other countries as “Saudization”, and “Nitaqat” to the Saudis themselves, has long been announced by that country, and has been hanging over the heads of our overseas foreign workers there. It involves a campaign for Saudian companies, industries, business enterprises, and even households, to give preference to their own people over those from other countries. That is not surprising, because the country, for all its oil wealth, must also have its own citizens who belong to non-oil blessed families, and must therefore work or seek employment to survive. However, for decades now, they have been relying on foreign workers who have found in their country more employment and much higher wages than they could get at home. Under the “Nitaqat”, however, Saudian firms will be required to hire a certain percentage of its own citizens. That is why our workers there now fear that they will be displaced when the new program takes effect on Aug. 30.
After revealing this in earlier news releases, the DOLE has lately issued assurances that most of the companies where Filipinos are employed have already complied with the requirements of the “Nitaqat”. But this appears to contradict a statement from Malacañang that there are other countries ready to absorb workers who cannot be accommodated in Saudi Arabia, after it was announced that it will no longer issue working permits for domestic staff.
This is one problem that President Aquino should prioritize when he starts his second year in office, considering that remittances from overseas workers have become one of the strongest backbones of our country.*