LABOR Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd has left for Saudi Arabia for a special mission: to bring home more than 9,000 Filipinos who lost their jobs as a result of the economic crisis triggered by the drop in oil prices.
Bello was accompanied by officials from the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Public Attorney’s Office and Department of Foreign Affairs.
“The marching order of President (Rodrigo) Duterte is to bring all our OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) back home. ASAP,” the Labor chief said before boarding his flight to Saudi Arabia on Monday night.
According to him, the remaining OFWs in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar are those who are waiting for their monetary claims from their previous employers.
However, Bello said that some of the OFWs were hoping that they can find new jobs.
More than 11,000 Filipinos were stranded in the Gulf State since several big companies there laid off workers. Over 2,000 OFWs have already returned to the Philippines since Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered the kingdom’s Ministry of Labor to waive their penalties for their iqama or exit clearance.
The government of Saudi Arabia has also issued directives to renew the work permit and iqama of migrant workers of Saudi Oger Ltd., a Riyadh-based construction company.
“The officials from the Saudi Ministry of Labor assured us that upon receipt of the instructions from the King of Saudi, they immediately met with the Ministry of Interior and Passports Office so the work permits and iqama of our OFWs will be processed,” Bello said.