Palace: P2 billion ready for OFW repatriates from Saudi

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Malacanang on Sunday said the government is ready to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who may be repatriated from Saudi Arabia due to  its “Saudization” policy.
In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government has been providing assistance to undocumented Filipinos who want to go back to the Philippines.
“The public can be assured that the government is prepared to give them all the legal and other necessary assistance,” Coloma said.
Aside from the legal and financial assistance, OFWs from Syria will be provided sufficient support under the reintegration program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). he said.
The government, through the Labor department, the Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines, has allocated P2 billion for this reintegration program, he added.
A total of 9,000 Filipinos have been given travel documents, while some 1,500 are waiting for clearance from the immigration office.
He said 4,371 Filipino workers have returned to the Philippines.
Based on the assessment of the DOLE and Department of Foreign Affairs, Coloma said that the effect of the ‘Saudization’ policy will be “limited” since some of the Filipinos have already found other jobs.
‘Saudization’ is a national policy of Saudi Arabia encouraging employment of Saudi nationals in the private sector, which was largely dominated by expatriate workers from Asia, Europe and US.
The Saudi government has enacted policies to promote ‘Saudization,’ including warnings to companies that will fail to comply with ‘Saudization’ regulations will not get government contracts.
Meanwhile, Coloma said that the Philippine government continues to make an appeal and representations with the Saudi government in assisting undocumented Filipinos.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, already wrote Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud seeking extension of the government’s November 3 deadline for illegal workers, he said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has directed Undersecretary Jesus Yabes to assist and arrange the repatriation of Filipinos affected by from Saudi Arabia’s new policy, Coloma added.

CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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