OFWs from bankrupt Saudi firms get aid

I know (some workers) couldn’t wait but that is good because the records of both governments will be cleared.

(Video Grab) Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan ‘Toots’ Ople during the recent signing ceremony with Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Department of Social Welfare and Development on the P10,000 humanitarian assistance for each of the more than 10,000 Filipino workers-claimants who have yet to receive their back wages and benefits from their former employers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. | VIDEO GRAB courtesy of OWWA

The government is getting ready to disburse a P50 million fund to grant P10,000 in financial assistance to Filipino workers abroad who have not received their salaries from several Saudi companies that went bankrupt about 10 years ago.

The help was provided due to a memorandum of understanding signed on Saturday morning in Mandaluyong City by the Department of Migrant Workers, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

In a press briefing, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople said DSWD provided the cash assistance recommended by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., to help the families of the OFWs as they awaited Saudi Arabia’s decision on their bankrupt employers.

Using DMW’s website, the OFWs can learn more about how the government distributes cash assistance.

Each beneficiary will obtain a control number after completing the online form, which they must produce in a claiming facility to receive the cash payment.

Although there are 17 claim sites across the country, the DMW did not specify where beneficiaries might pick up their cash assistance; instead, it stated that recipients would be given the address and instructions for getting the money once they had submitted their online forms.

“I think P10,000 is very modest, but I hope it’s meaningful enough to help them out,” Ople said.

“We will not release the money unless may ipakitang valid ID and may database na din kasi ang OWWA ng claimants (We will not release the money unless a valid ID is shown since OWWA also has a database of claimants),” she said.

Ople also urged the claimants to communicate with the DMW to get the claim number at OWWA and show proof that they are tied with the company.

Meanwhile, OWWA administrator Arnaldo Arevalo “Arnel” Ignacio assured families of the affected OFWs that they could conveniently claim the cash aid by following the instructions posted on the DMW website.

Social Welfare Secretary Rexlong Ting “Rex” Gatchalian, who was also present in the same press briefing, said the budget would come from their department, and the cash assistance would be distributed the following week.

“We (DMW-OWWA-DSWD) are settling claims for workers in Saudi Arabia who have not been paid and will be able to provide assistance,” Gatchalian said.

“Bago mag-Wednesday, na-download na dapat ‘yung funds (The funds should be downloaded before Wednesday),” Gatchalian added.

He added that part of the DSWD’s mandate is to welcome and provide care for our migrant workers, especially the families here who have been left behind.

In November, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman informed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would cover the outstanding wages of Filipino workers who had been impacted by the failure of many building enterprises in the Middle Eastern nation.

Ople revealed that a DMW representative would visit Saudi Arabia next week to negotiate the specifics of the monarch’s promised payment to Filipino laborers.

“We can’t say when, how, where the dates will be resolved because the money is not ours, it’s from another country,” she said.

The Migrant Workers Secretary said that the DMW would withhold further information until “concrete information” is provided regarding the discussions between the Filipino and Saudi governments.

She explained that they want to be responsible in handling information and dealing with our counterparts, adding that the DMW is “using quiet diplomacy” to resolve the issues.

“I know (some workers) couldn’t wait but that is good because the records of both governments will be cleared. The responsibility of the past is guaranteed to be resolved in the present. It’s just that these things take time,” Ople said.

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