OFW group wants list of gov't cash aid beneficiaries expanded
An OFW group has asked the government to expand its financial assistance program to cover more Filipino workers displaced by the oil crisis plaguing construction companies in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia.
In a statement Thursday, Marlon Gatdula of Migrante-KSA Western Region said the government must expand "the limited scope of beneficiaries" to OFWs whose employers felt the effects of the oil crisis but did not make it to the list made by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
Gatdula said the cash assistance being offered by OWWA through its P500-million Relief Assistance Program must not be limited only to its members.
"It will be unfair and divisive to the OFWs and their families. Because of their stranded status, majority of them are undocumented (no iqamas) and therefore have been rendered stripped off their active OWWA memberships. If active OWWA membership is a pre-requisite, close to none will be able to avail," he said.
Under OWWA's Memorandum of Instruction, only OFWs formerly employed by the following companies may claim P20,000 and P6,000 for their families in the Philippines at the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah:
Saudi bin Laden Grup of Companies
Saudi Oger Ltd.
Mohammed al-Mojil Group
Mohammad Hameed Al-Bargash & Bros. Trading & Construction Co.
Rajeh H. Al Merri Contracting & Trading Co.
Fawzi Salah Al Nairani Contracting Co.
Arabtec Construction LLC
Real Estate Development & Investment Co.
Among the employers Migrante wishes to see on the list are SMASCO, Al-Aman Contracting and Alzeeme in Jeddah, SMACO in Al-Khobar and Fiberglass Factory in Rabigh.
The group also urged OWWA officials in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al-Khobar to immediately visit OFWs at their jobsites to inform them of the financial aid.
“We also reiterate that while the emergency financial assistance is a welcome development, it is only one of the demands put forth by stranded OFWs and their families,” Gatdula said.
The cash aid came a week after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III checked on the conditions of OFWs at the camps of Saudi Oger and Saudi bin Laden Group of Companies.
Prior to the visit, Bello sacked two labor attachés in Riyadh and Jeddah for their alleged neglect of some 11,000 OFWs affected by the massive retrenchments of construction companies. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News