Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III yesterday urged displaced overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia to avail of the repatriation program offered by the government.


“Pinapakiusapan ko sila na mag-avail ng repatriation para makauwi na sa Pilipinas.  Mahirap ang kalagayan nila dito sa Saudi Arabia,” said Bello who heads the 40-man Phippine Special Mission to Saudi Arabia.


According to Bello, the goal is to repatriate the first batch of 2,000 OFWs between August 20 and the first week of September.


Bello said that there are OFWs who are hesitant to come home because they want to ensure that they will be paid their back wages and other monetary claims.


However, the Labor and Employment Secretary said that he and the other government officials included in the mission are convincing the said displaced OFWs to execute Special Power of Attorney (SPA) which shall authorize Philippine representatives to follow up their unpaid claims to their former employers.


Bello said the only reason that the OFWs will be allowed to extend their stay in Saudi Arabia is if they have managed to secure another job.


“Of course, if some were able to get new employment, we will not blame them if they insist on staying. Choice nila iyon na makapagtrabaho muli,” Bello added.


Bello also assured OFWs who availed of the voluntary repatriation program that the Department will provide a package of comprehensive reintegration assistance and services under its Assist WELL Program.


The Assist WELL Program ensures that returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who voluntarily sign up for repatriation, or those who are compelled to go home under mandatory repatriation due to crises or emergency situations, are successfully reintegrated in the mainstream of Philippine society.


END/celeste maring

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