Assistance to Nationals (ATN) teams were deployed last week to Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) last week to complement the efforts of the Philippine Embassy and Consulate General in assisting overseas Filipinos, especially Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) employed in financially troubled companies across KSA. The team was immediately sent by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr.
One hundred sixty-six 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 said OFWs have unpaid claims for wages, allowances and benefits against 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 DOH, DOLE, DSWD, TESDA, and PAO. The said doctors provided medical, welfare, and other social services to the OFWs.
The team then visited the Saudi Ministry of Labor (MOL) Office in Dammam to follow-up on the assistance for the affected OFWs. This included the immediate issuance of exit visas for the OFWs requesting to be repatriated back to the Philippines. The Saudi MOL Director in Dammam assured the DFA team that the MOL will assist the OFWs in the said companies and others who are in a similar situation.
Last May 2016, the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) Rapid Response Team (RRT) visited OFWs in various work camps and accommodations of construction and maintenance companies across Saudi Arabia.
The DFA RRT learned that around 11,000 OFWs were no longer receiving their salaries, allowances and benefits on time primarily due to the difficult financial condition of their respective companies.
The DFA RRT provided modest humanitarian assistance, including food, medicines and hygiene kits, to the affected OFWs. The DFA then raised the labor-related problems of the affected OFWs to the Saudi Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Labor, as well as to DOLE and other relevant agencies.
Secretary Yasay subsequently met with Saudi Ambassador Dr. Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Bussairy. The latter committed that the government of the KSA will help the Philippine government in extending the needed assistance to the affected OFWs.
Throughout this month, the DFA teams will visit and facilitate immediate assistance to other OFWs in distress in the Eastern Region and other parts of Saudi Arabia
Source: Philippine Information Agency