MANILA -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said it spent close to P70.5 million to assist distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) last year.
The DFA, in a press statement, said 2013 could be best defined as a "crisis period" due to the mass repatriation and the rush in legalization of workers' status in Saudi Arabia.
More than 28,000 rushed to the consulate last year to seek either repatriation or transfer to legal sponsors, following the kingdom's intensified "Saudization" campaign.
The DFA said it has provided medical assistance to OFWs who set up camp at "tent city" in Saudi Arabia.
More than half of the cases were birth deliveries and the rest were cancer, stroke or diabetes patients.
It negotiated the waiving from 50% to as much as 100% of several OFWs' hospital bills.
One of the consulate's shelters in Jeddah houses some 62 OFWs who filed labor or police cases against their employers.
Another safehouse at Bawadi district has 82 OFWs awaiting exit visas, the DFA said.
At the height of the crisis, the consulate took in close to 450 distressed Filipinos, spending almost P10.8 million for accommodation, food, children's formula and basic necessities.
The DFA also helped 369 OFWs in Jeddah prisons, with 239 OFWs released and repatriated.
Drugs and liquor were the major causes of detention. A total of 41 other OFWs got help at police stations for various cases such as theft, physical abuse, rape or fake documents.
In the same year the Consulate assisted in the transport or burial of 242 deceased Filipinos.