THE KING of Saudi Arabia has assured support to more than 11,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who lost their jobs as a result of the crisis in Gulf states brought about by the drop in world fuel prices.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd on Tuesday disclosed that Saudi King Salman bin Abulaziz Al Saud had instructed the kingdom’s Ministry of Labor to facilitate welfare assistance to the jobless OFWs stranded in Jeddah and Riyadh.
“This is a welcome development and, indeed, a big help in our ongoing efforts to secure the welfare of our OFWs,” Bello said.
The king’s instructions consisted of the waiver of immigration penalties due to expired working visas, plane fares for OFWs returning to the Philippines, food aid, re-employment assistance to those who wish to work in other companies, and legal assistance to money claims.
Bello earlier approved the release of P500 million from the emergency assistance fund of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration as initial support to the stranded OFWs and their families in the Philippines.
Out of the P500 million, P20,000 will be allotted to every stranded OFW, and P6,000 to each family or beneficiary.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is facilitating the return of the Filipino workers by batches.
Saudi Ministry of Labor Director General Mohammed Al Sharekh, said Bello, had informed the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh that Saudi labor officers were set to officially receive claims in OFW camps instead of requiring the thousands of workers to go to the Saudi Labor Office building.
An interagency emergency relief assistance mission, composed of Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Public Attorney’s Office has been formed by the Philippine government to support the operations of three Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Saudi.