The government has extended some P455.1 million in emergency assistance to about 10,233 distressed overseas Filipino workers who were displaced due to the drop in oil prices in the Middle East, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said yesterday.
At the same time, Bello said a total of 2,191 of those distressed workers had availed of the government’s repatriation program based on latest reports from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
“Our Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Riyadh, Al Khobar, and Jeddah continue to intensify their efforts in disseminating information on the voluntary repatriation program and in conducting negotiations with employers,” Bello said. The program is under the “Bring Them Home Mission” of the Department which started last August.
Those repatriated are employees of Mohammad Al Mojil Group of Companies, Saudi Oger Ltd., Saudi Binladin Group, Rakan Trading and Arabtech. These are among the nine companies that laid off workers after being affected by the oil price slump.
Bello said of the 2,191 OFWs repatriated, 1,037 came from Riyadh; 743 from Jeddah; and 411 from Al Khobar.
Each repatriate was also given P26,000 under OWWA’s Expanded Relief Assistance Program (RAP).
As of 21 October, 10,233 displaced OFWs were provided with P20,000, or 1,590 riyals for onsite RAP disbursement. About 7,430 repatriated OFWs and 10,516 families of OFWs who are still at the jobsites were provided with P6,000 under local RAP disbursement.
Bello added that OFW repatriates were also provided with airport assistance, transportation assistance and temporary accommodation at the OWWA Halfway Home before proceeding to their respective provinces.
The “Bring Them Home Mission” is a convergence program among government agencies composed of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of Health (DOH), including the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.
The program aims to bring home the stranded and overstaying OFWs due to the employment crisis in the Middle East.