PHL officials in Jeddah explain cash aid to displaced OFWs
OWWA Welfare Officer Angel Cruz meets with displaced OFWs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to discuss the process of releasing the financial assistance promised by the government last week. Ronaldo Concha
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Philippine officials in Jeddah have appealed for patience as they start the process of giving financial assistance to Filipino workers rendered jobless by the oil crisis plaguing Middle East-based construction companies.
Welfare Officer Angel Cruz said they've been meeting with the affected OFWs by batches to explain to them the process of releasing the P26,000 promised to them by the government.
Meeting the third batch of affected OFWs on Tuesday at the Philippine Consulate here, Cruz said they have yet to release the funds as they are still completing the list of beneficiaries, many of whom were retrenched OFWs from Saudi Oger and Saudi Binladen who've been waiting for their back pays for months.
Cruz said the list would serve as their basis in releasing the money.
He also said among their concerns is how to bring the money to the OFWs, who are staying in various accommodations, many of them far from the consulate. He noted the security risk of transporting big money to various locations.
Cruz said they have asked different OFW groups to assign a leader or a representative who will help in the distribution of the cash assistance.
For affected OFWs who are already in the Philippines, Cruz said they can claim their financial assistance from regional offices of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) once they start releasing it.
The financial assistance was promised by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III during his visit to Riyadh last week to check on the condition of retrenched OFWs in Saudi Arabia.
"Lahat ng mga na-displace at maging ang mga na-repatriate ay bibigyan [ng financial assistance]... kukuha po tayo ng kumpletong imbentaryo," Bello said.
Based on government estimates, there are at least 10,000 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia who were displaced when big construction companies started downsizing last year as a result of the drastic drop in oil prices.
Meanwhile, affected OFWs who are already in the Philippines but could not go home to their provinces due to budgetary constraints were encouraged to stay at OWWA halfway houses in Manila. —Ronaldo Concha/KBK, GMA News