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MANILA, Philippines – Some overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) entitled to years-old labor claims from Saudi Arabia have been receiving checks from the Saudi government, but the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has yet to confirm the release of money from the checks.
In a year-end press conference on Friday, December 29, the DMW confirmed that some OFWs have been receiving “communications” from Saudi Arabia.
“The claimants are receiving communications from Saudi entities in fulfillment of the promise of the Crown Prince. [But] as we speak, there are certain challenges,” said DMW Undersecretary Bernard Olalia.
Olalia said the challenges included how some claimants have already died, and that widows may not easily be able to claim their late spouses’ checks from foreign banks which would be deposited in a Philippine bank.
“So, we are assisting the widows. Because based on the process of banking practices, a widow cannot claim a check that is in the name of the worker,” Olalia said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Olalia said that the DMW was coordinating with the OF (Overseas Filipino) Bank to assist all workers to finally receive and encash the checks.
“It appears that for some, the process has started, and there have also been communications by the Saudi embassy here in Manila to that effect. But… we’re keeping our expectations modest, cautiously optimistic at this stage, because we haven’t seen the release of the claims. The checks are yet to be encashed,” said DMW Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Hans Cacdac.
Cacdac did not categorically confirm whether it was correct to say that Saudi Arabia has begun paying out the long-awaited claims.
The OIC said that not all have received such “communications” from Saudi Arabia, and a trip to Saudi Arabia, possibly in January, was on the horizon to continue coordination.
In November 2022, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promised President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that the kingdom would finally pay the thousands of Filipino workers who had been in limbo regarding their labor claims when their construction companies folded in Saudi Arabia sometime around 2015.
The bilateral “gift” was said to be worth 2 billion Riyals, or around P30 billion.
Olalia said on Friday that more than 12,000 sent in their details to a designated DMW email address for Saudi claimants. The DMW handed over the list to the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development for claim validation.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs earlier expressed doubt that the claims would be released by the end of 2023. – Rappler.com