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DFA sends team to assist distressed OFWs in Saudi

THE Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday announced it has deployed an Assistance to Nationals (ATN) team to Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to complement the efforts of the Philippine Embassy and Consulate General to assist overseas Filipino workers employed in financially troubled companies across KSA.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay Jr. said at leas 106 OFWs from the Mohammad Al-Mojil Group (MMG), 28 from Mohammad Hameed Al Barghash & Bros. Trading and Construction Co., and 129 from Saudi Oger were recently met by the DFA-ATN team in Al Khobar.

The OFWs have unpaid claims for wages, allowances and benefits from their companies.

The DFA team explained the on-going efforts of the Philippine and Saudi governments to resolve the problems of the OFWs with their employers, including the engagement of Saudi lawyers to pursue the labor related claims of the OFWs.

The DFA team also brought doctors and other specialists from the Department of Health (DoH), Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and Public Attorney's Office (PAO). The doctors provided medical, welfare, and other social services to the OFWs.
   
The team also visited the Saudi Ministry of Labor (MOL) Office in Dammam to follow-up on the assistance for the affected OFWs.
   
Meanwhile, some 28 OFWs arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday around 4:50 p.m. on Etihad Airways flight 424 from Saudi Arabia.        At least 119 distressed OFWs were repatriated from the Kingdom since July 26.   
   
Another batch of 28 OFWs, all former employees of Saudi Oger Ltd., are also expected to arrive yesterday around 10 p.m. via flight EY 428 also from Abu Dhabi.
   
Most of the returning OFWs said  they did not receive their salaries for over 8 months and their foods ration comes every Friday. They said when no food or aid arrives, they sleep on empty stomach.
   
Some 10,000 OFWs have been retrenched from various companies in Saudi due to the continuing slump in oil prices and the Saudization policy, which gives employment preference over foreign workers.
   
Upon arrival, the repatriated OFWs with no homes in Metro Manila will be temporarily housed at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration center in Pasay City while they arrange their return to their home provinces.

With Willy M. Balasa