Malacañang gave assurances on Sunday that the government is ready to receive and assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who may be repatriated from Saudi Arabia due to its “Saudization” policy, which encourages the employment of Saudi nationals in the private sector.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the government has been providing assistance to undocumented Filipinos in Saudi.
“The public can be assured that the government is prepared to give them all the legal and other necessary assistance,” Coloma said.
He said that OFWs from Syria will also be provided sufficient support under the reintegration program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Coloma added that the government, through the labor department, the Development Bank of the Philippines, and Land Bank of the Philippines, has allocated P2 billion for the reintegration program.
A total of 9,000 OFWs have been given travel documents, while some 1,500 are still waiting for their clearance from the immigration office. On the other hand, around 4,371 Filipino workers have already returned to the Philippines.
Coloma said that the effect of the ‘Saudization’ policy will be “limited” since some of the Filipinos have already found other jobs. He added that the Philippine government continues to make appeals and representations with the Saudi government in assisting undocumented OFWs.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, already wrote to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud seeking extension of the government’s November 3 deadline against illegal workers.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, for his part, directed Undersecretary Jesus Yabes to personally assist and arrange the repatriation of Filipinos from Saudi Arabia.