overseas Filipinos

PH to give P10,000 aid to OFWs still waiting for Saudi labor claims

Michelle Abad

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PH to give P10,000 aid to OFWs still waiting for Saudi labor claims

DMW. The Department of Migrant Workers building on March 6, 2023.

Department of Migrant Workers

The migrant workers and social welfare departments, as well as the OWWA, set aside P100 million to cover the financial grant, months after the Saudi government promised that 10,000 OFWs would receive their claims

MANILA, Philippines – Almost four months since the Saudi Arabian government promised to pay 10,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) their labor claims from their now-closed construction companies, Philippine authorities will be giving a “humanitarian package” of P10,000 each to claimants as they continue to wait.

The Philippine Department of Migrant Workers announced on Monday, March 6, that the DMW and its attached agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), are pitching in P5,000 for each of the 10,000 worker-claimants.

The other P5,000 will be shouldered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, totaling P10,000 for each claimant.

The agencies are all together allotting P100 million to cover the financial grant.

Thousands of OFWs were displaced after certain construction companies in Saudi Arabia went belly-up during an economic crisis around 2015. The Department of Labor and Employment in 2021 reported that the OFWs’ unpaid salaries amounted to P4.6 billion.

On November 18, 2022, as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bangkok, the crown prince promised that the OFWs would get paid. He said the “gift” would amount to 2 billion riyals (over P30.5 billion).

The DMW said the Marcos administration is extending the financial assistance to the unpaid OFWs while it awaits talks between the two governments reportedly set sometime in March.

More than 100 claimants have already died while waiting for their labor claims, the DMW reported.

Marcos has instructed Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople to “make use of prudent diplomacy in discussing with the Saudi government on the issue of unpaid back wages,” the DMW said.

The OWWA has yet to issue implementing guidelines for the release of the funds, according to OWWA Administrator Arnell Ignacio. The DMW said the grants will be released directly to the claimants.

“OWWA has sufficient funds for this humanitarian program, and we are ready to help the claimants, as we have done in the past,” said Ignacio.

Migrant Workers Undersecretary Hans Cacdac earlier said the Philippine government has shelled out around P1 billion to OFW-claimants in financial aid and livelihood support during the six- to eight-year waiting period.

So far, the DMW has only released specific guidelines for OFWs who are waiting for claims from construction company Saudi Oger.

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– Rappler.com

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.