Lawmaker wants crisis management team for laid-off Middle East OFWs

Don Kevin Hapal
Lawmaker wants crisis management team for laid-off Middle East OFWs

AFP

Party list ACTS-OFW says thousands of OFWs are affected by the economic downturn in the Middle East

MANILA, Philippines – To assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were laid off due to the “economic downturn” in the Middle East, ACTS-OFW representative John R. Bertiz III proposed on Thursday, July 14, the creation of a crisis management team.

A former OFW himself, Bertiz filed House Resolution No. 13, urging the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to form a joint team to look into the plight of OFWs whose “respective companies in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East went bankrupt.”

“The apparent lack of coordination and policy consensus between the two departments continues to be felt on the ground by affected OFWs across Saudi Arabia and in some other areas across the Middle East, leading their families at home and workers onsite to the edge of desperation, if not depression,” Bertiz said in his resolution.

Bertiz said that thousands of OFWs were affected by the financial difficulties of major Saudi trading and construction companies. 

According to a press release from the party list, reports sent to them show that thousands of OFWs are affected by the economic downturn in the Middle East caused by terrorism, armed hostilities, and steep declines in the global prices of oil. 

“Every effort must be undertaken by Philippine diplomatic offices in the Middle East and in some other parts of the world to ensure that OFWs fighting for their legal rights to full compliance be successfully pursued in the name of labor justice and human rights,” Bertiz explained. 

The neophyte lawmaker also noted that many OFWs bear the brunt of austerity measures being implemented by private companies that have declared, or are suspected to be on the road to, financial bankruptcy.

“Our OFWs remain stranded in work camps and accommodation awaiting the payment of back wages and end-of-service benefits for more than a year, with some workers suffering inhumane conditions,” Bertiz said. – Rappler.com

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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.