President Rodrigo R. Duterte, together with Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and other Cabinet members welcomed the 139 Filipinos who were granted exit visas under Saudi Arabia’s “Nation without Violations” amnesty program.
The repatriates arrived at 3:40 A.M today on board Saudia Airlines flight SV 7079.
President Duterte, along with Secretary Bello and Cabinet members and ranking government officials, welcomed the repatriated overseas Filipino workers comprised of 65 females and twenty 20 children coming from Bahay Kalinga (or female shelter), and another 54)males who resided in the Estiraha (or male shelter), 16 walk-in clients at the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
“The 90-day Saudi Arabian amnesty program was launched on 29 March 2017. On the same day, I deployed a ‘Rapid Response Team’ composed of DOLE Undersecretary Dominador S. Say, Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac, OWWA, Deputy Administrator Brigido J. Dulay, OWWA lawyer Cesar L. Chavez, Jr., OWWA and POEA lawyer Anna Patricia P. Jacobo to assess the situation of the OFWs availing of the amnesty program,” Bello said.
Due to goodwill generated by the visit of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia chartered a plane to fly the OFWs back to the country for free and at no cost to the Philippine government.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) headed by Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) repatriation team extended airport assistance to the returning OFWs, such as the travel document processing, use of a special immigration lane, and baggage assistance.
OWWA also provided post-repatriation services to the workers which include temporary shelter at the OWWA Halfway Home, psychosocial counseling/stress debriefing, and transport services. Each worker, whether active or inactive OWWA member, received Php 5,000.00 cash assistance from the Office of the President as well as an additional Php 5,000.00 from DOLE/OWWA,
The OFWs likewise offered the returning OFWs a package of services from the DOLE Assist WELL program that provides “Welfare, Employment, Livelihood, and Legal Assistance” to displaced workers.
OWWA members can avail of the Balik-Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay Program – a non-cash livelihood package worth Php 10,000.00 consisting of a starter kit and techno-skills training. Non-OWWA members, on the other hand, shall be referred to the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) for availment of their non-cash training and livelihood program.
The OWWA Repatriation Team and the 24/7 Operations Center, in close coordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in KSA, are in full alert in monitoring the updates on flight advisories and schedules of arrivals of the succeeding batches of returning workers availing of the amnesty program.
### GSR with report from OWWA