MANILA (UPDATE)— The government is set to release a P100-million fund to give a P10,000 cash aid for overseas Filipino workers who have yet to receive their salaries from several Saudi companies that declared bankruptcy nearly a decade ago.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to transfer P50 million of funds to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), which will facilitate its distribution to at least 8,000 beneficiaries.
The other P50 million will be sourced from the DMW’s fund.
“Early next week… bago mag-Wednesday na download na dapat ‘yung funds,” Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian said.
“Bahagi ng development yung pagtanggap at pagkalinga sa mga migrant worker natin lalo na yung mga pamilya ninyong nandito na naiwan,” he said.
The OWWA will be getting in touch with those who were included in the list of qualified beneficiaries, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said.
They will be asked to log on to a website to accomplish a form that would validate their eligibility to receive the cash aid, according to information from the DMW.
After accomplishing the online form, a control number will be given to each beneficiary, which they need to present in a claiming center to receive the cash grant.
While there are 17 claim sites nationwide, the DMW did not announce where beneficiaries could claim the cash aid, but noted that the location and instructions how to get the fund would be given after they complete their online forms.
“I think 10,000 is very modest but I hope it’s meaningful enough to help them out,” Ople said.
“We will not release the money unless may ipakitang valid ID and may data base na din kasi ang OWWA ng claimants,” she said.
In November, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bi Salman told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would shoulder the unpaid wages of Filipino workers who were affected by the bankruptcy of several construction firms in the Middle Eastern country.
A DMW official will travel to Saudi next week to discuss the details of the monarch’s promised compensation for Filipino workers, Ople said.
“Hindi natin talaga masasabi kung kailan, paano, saan mangyayari yung pagresolve ng dates dahil yung pera hindi sa atin, it’s in another country,” she said.
“Alam ko naiinip kayo pero maganda yan dahil macli-clear yung records ng both governments… Yung pananagutan ng nakaraan ay tinitiyak naman na mareresolba sa kasalukuyan. Yun lang nga, these things take time,” she said.
The DMW will not release further details about the talks between the Philippine and Saudi government until “concrete information” is available, the Migrant Workers Secretary said.
“Asahan ninyo na na hindi kami magiging madada about this until we have concrete information out of respect to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince,” she said.
“We just want to be really responsible in handling information and dealing with our counterparts,” she said, noting that the DMW is “using quiet diplomacy.”
Between 8,000 and 10,000 overseas Filipino workers were affected in by the closure of the Saudi Oger, Mohammad Al Mojil Group of Companies and other similarly situated firms in 2015.