Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III has approved the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s Board Resolution No. 06 Series of 2016, which allocates P500 million in emergency assistance to distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia.
“The cash relief assistance will consist of P 20,000 per affected worker, and another P 6,000 cash assistance per family,” Bello said during a meeting of OWWA Board of Trustees.
Bello, who is the chairperson of the OWWA Board of Trustees, hopes that the financial support will somehow ease the suffering of OFWs heavily affected by the economic crisis in the Middle East due to the oil price slump.
The distressed overseas Filipinos workers were employed in nine beleaguered companies in Saudi, which include Al Mojil Group (MMG), Saudi Bin Laden Group, and the Saudi Oger. These companies suffered financial reverses that affected their capabilities to fulfil their contract obligations, causing delay or non-payment of salaries, and end-of-service payments and other benefits.
The Saudi companies with distressed OFWs are Mohammad Al-Mojil Group, Saudi Oger Ltd., Saudi Binladen Group, Rajeh H Al Merri Contracting & Trading Company, Real Estate Development Investment Co. Ltd., Al Barghash Trading and Contracting Co, Arabtech, Fawzi Salah – Al Nairani Contracting Company, and Saudi Binladin Group-Alumco.
The OWWA Board, which cited the report and recommendation of the DOLE Special Mission to Saudi Arabia on 7-11 March 2016 led by Undersecretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III, and the Department of Foreign Affairs Team on 7 July 2016, said both missions saw the serious need to respond immediately to the plight of the distressed OFWs through provision of food, medicines, relief packages, and other relief contingencies.
Present during the OWWA Board meeting chaired by Secretary Bello were OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado, DOLE Undersecretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III, DBM Undersecretary Luz M. Cantor, DFA Undersecretary Jesus I. Yabes, POEA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac, and Women Sector Representative Estrella D. Añonuevo.