Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
By EDD K. USMAN & DEEN MUHAMMAD
MANILA/RIYADH, July 14 (SDN) — THE Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has adopted a contingency plan to continue serving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and other Filipinos there.
Ambassador Adnan Alonto, the Philippines’ top diplomat in the Kingdom, relayed this today to SDN — Science & Digital News.
This developed as the embassy which has around 60 officials, staff, and personnel has been hit by novel coronavirus infections, the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
A post on Facebook by an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) said the embassy was hit by the coronavirus.
“It’s true, unfortunately. We are struggling to decide on a temporary shutdown of the embassy. My officers seemed bent on keeping it open. We will do a reassessment at the end of the week,” the ambassador confirmed when reached by SDN — Science & Digital News.
“We have nine positive (of the virus), with three recovered,” he said.
Earlier, Alonto had all the embassy employees and officials undergo the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) testing for the virus.
Apparently, he had the test conducted by the Habib Medical Group after 13 staff and employees of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) Riyadh were found after testing to be infected with Covid-19.
POLO Riyadh had to temporarily close, but is now open again for business.
It was surmised by some OFWs in Riyadh that the POLO Riyadh employees got infected after their house-to-house delivery in the Saudi Arabian capital and in the Riyadh Region of the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE)-AKAP US$200 financial assistance for each qualified OFW and their delivery of food and relief assistance.
Figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) put the number of the large Filipino community in the Kingdom at more than 900,000. Over 400,000 are in the Riyadh Region alone.
Alonto did not say if all those working in the embassy had been tested already. What he was sure of is that a good majority has been tested.
Not wanting to stop serving its constituents, a plan had to be devised.
“The embassy has adopted a contingency plan that enabled it to continue operations under this dire situation,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Alonto presided over the turnover of leadership of POLO Eastern Region Operations to Labor Attaché Nasser Mustafa.
With the turnover, Mustafa now is at the helm of three POLO stations: POLO Riyadh, POLO Kuwait, and POLO ERO, which covers Saudi Arabia’s Eastern areas like Dammam, Al-Khobar, Jubail, Dhahran.
At POLO ERO, he replaced Labor Attaché Reydeluz Conferido who, like Mustafa, is a veteran of various POLO postings in different parts of the world where there are OFWs. (SDN)
Featured photograph of Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and others from Ambassador Adnan Alonto.