DOLE okays P500-M aid for overseas workers

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THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has approved a P500-million emergency assistance for the more than 11,000 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia and for their families and beneficiaries in the Philippines.

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The amount will come from the emergency assistance fund of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an adjunct agency of the DOLE.

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd, sitting as chairman of the OWWA’s Board of Trustees, and the members of the board approved on Thursday Board Resolution No. 06 Series of 2016, allotting a P500-million emergency assistance for the distressed OFWS in Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

Bello said P20,000 would be allotted to every stranded OFW, and another P6,000 cash assistance for their families or beneficiaries here in the country.

“The financial assistance would go a long way in alleviating the plight of the jobless OFWs stranded in Saudi Arabia as a result of the economic crisis brought about by the drop in oil prices in the Gulf states,” he added.

The affected workers were employed by nine companies based in Riyadh and Jeddah, namely: the Al Mojil Group, Saudi Bi Laden Group Ltd., Saudi Oger Ltd., Rajeh H Al Merri Contracting & Trading Co., Real Estate Development Investment Co. Ltd., Al Barghash Trading and Contracting Co., Arabtech, Fawzi Salah-Al Nairani Contracting Co. and Saudi Binladin Group-Alumco.

Because of the oil price crisis, Bello said the nine firms suffered financial difficulties, which resulted in delay or non-payment of the workers’ salaries and other benefits.

Bello earlier assured the OFWs that their children would be granted educational assistance, including scholarship in state universities, while their spouses and other dependents would be provided temporary employment through the government’s Cash for Work Program.

The DOLE chief recently visited the stranded OFWs in Riyadh and Jeddah to personally assess their situation.

He assured the workers that their repatriation is already being worked out through the Foreign Affairs department and the OWWA.

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