An increasing number of undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia had returned home on Thursday after availing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s 90-day amnesty program or the “Nation without Violations”, which will end on June 29, 2017.
“Sa ngayon, pumapalo na sa mahigit isang libo ang mga nakauwi ng OFWs at mayroon pang mga 2,000 na mabigyan na rin ng exit visa. Mayroon pa tayong ine-expect na 4,000 to 5,000 amnesty availees until June 29 or sa loob pa ng kalahating buwan,” Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac said as he welcomed the eight batch of repatriated OFWs at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.
The batch, composed of 147 OFWs from Riyadh, received immediate assistance from OWWA including airport assistance, psycho-social counseling/stress debriefing and medical referral.
Aside from the immediate assistance, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through its Assist WELL (Welfare, Employment, Legal and Livelihood) Program is on stand-by to provide local and overseas employment referral, livelihood assistance, legal and conciliation services, competency assessment and training assistance to the repatriated and distressed OFWs.
“Ang malawakang programa ni President Duterte at ni Labor Secretary Bello is to give our OFWs genuine options. Lalatagan natin sila ng mga livelihood programs and sila ang mamimili. They can start with small enterprises or enhance their skills and get another job opportunity here in our county for good,” Cacdac said.
He also said that repatriated OFWs will receive livelihood starter kit worth P10,000-20,000 under the Balik-Pinas! Balik-Hanapbuhay! Program of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).
Meanwhile, Eljhen Ancla Camlipusam, a repatriated OFW who illegally stayed in Riyadh for four years, thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for the help as they finally received the opportunity to go back home.
“Napakahirap ng kalagayan naming sa Riyadh. Ang tagal ko nang gusting umuwi at nagpapasalamat ako kay Pangulong Duterte at nabigyan kami ng pagkakataong umuwi. Napakalaking tulong po nito,” said Camlipusam, who will finally return home in Surigao Del Norte.
The said repatriated OFWs received P 5,000 cash assistance from DOLE-OWWA and woman repatriates with children were given additional P5,000 cash assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
As of May 18, 2017, around 4,000 OFWs have registered to avail the 90-day amnesty program given by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia and are due to arrive within the next days.
END/Abegail De Vega