RIYADH: Saudi Arabia encourages Filipino workers to continue working here because they are needed by the Kingdom, said Mufrej Al-Haqabani, minister of labor and social development, on Wednesday following talks with Silvestre Bello lll, Philippine labor secretary.
The talks focused on finding solutions to the problems of stranded Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), said Iric C. Arribas, Philippine consul general.
Talking about the crisis-hit Saudi Oger company, Al-Haqabani said this an isolated case. “The Kingdom is still a good place for foreigners to work.”
Bello also met with a group of Filipinos at the Philippine Embassy and said he would consider extending aid to undocumented OFWs and include them in the relief assistance program of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
During the talks, Bello informed Al-Haqabani that Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte wishes to visit the Kingdom “as soon as possible” to personally thank Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for helping distressed Filipinos.
The Philippine delegation comprised undersecretaries Vilma Cabrera of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; Danilo P. Lagunsad lll of the Department of Energy; Jesus Yabes of the Department of Foreign Affairs; Congressman Aniceto Bertiz; Dr. Romeo Bituin of the Department of Health; Hans Cacdac, administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration; Francisco Calatrava of the Public Attorney’s Office; and Labor Attache Resty S.M. dela Fuente.
“Under the royal decree, the travel documents of those who want to go home will be processed. They won’t have to pay anything. Their tickets will be free,” Arribas said. He added that the Kingdom would also help those who want to stay by facilitating their transfer to other companies.
“In this connection, an online system has been set up so that OFWs who will stay could send their bio-data to local companies,” Arribas said.
Around 1.8 million OFWs are based in Saudi Arabia, representing 10 per cent of an estimated 10 million OFWs worldwide. The OFWs represent 10 per cent of 100 million Filipinos.