Qatar’s sixth Philippines ambassador to Doha, Wilfredo C. Santos, will begin his post on April 28, the embassy has confirmed.
The envoy will represent not only the Philippines, but one of the largest demographic groups in Qatar. Filipinos account for some 260,000 of this country’s residents, third in number to the local Indian and Nepali communities.
That number is set to grow – in February, the Gulf Times reported that some 94,000 work visas has been secured by the Philippines to send overseas workers to Qatar, mostly to fill health and transportation-related jobs.
According to Filipino media reports, Santos was nominated to his post by Philippine president Benigno Aquino III last summer and confirmed in the fall.
Though he is a career diplomat, this is his first mission as ambassador, the embassy here told Doha News.
His previous foreign service postings include positions in the US, Singapore and Kuwait. Prior to becoming a diplomat, Santos worked as a journalist.
Santos will replace Crescente Relacion, who during his five-year posting has strived to improve the working and living conditions of OFWs, particularly the nearly 30,000 female domestic workers here.
However, the Philippines government’s push to ensure that some of its nationals are paid a minimum of QR1460 ($400)/month has put it at odds with Qatar in recent years.
In 2014, Relacion acknowledged that there had been a swift decline in the number of Filipinas working as household help in Qatar, following attempts to enforce the minimum wage.
That issue will likely continue to be negotiated as Santos begins his post here. Thoughts?