6 PHL labor officers in Riyadh seek early recall amid criticisms
Six Filipino labor officers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, have asked Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to allow them to take an "early end of tour of duty" following criticisms on their performance in attending to the stranded OFWs there.
In a letter to Bello dated July 28, 2016 and obtained by GMA News, the six said their request is to steer the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) away from criticisms "baseless or not."
"In the light of recent news releases and social media account, our continued stay unnecessarily exposes the Department to criticism, baseless or not, which we do not wish heaped upon a revered institution we have dearly served all our lives," their letter said.
The six officers who signed the letter were:
Dominador Salanga, assistant labor attaché
Firma Bantilan, assistant labor attaché
Jose Capa, coordinating welfare officer
Bernardo Toriano, welfare officer
Ruth Daza, welfare officer
Orlando Levi Nadora, welfare officer
The six said they want their early recall to be effective October 1, 2016 to give Bello ample time to pick officers "of your confidence" to replace them.
"This is also sufficient to fully carry out the instruction of OWWA Board Resolution Number 006 Series of 2016 on the giving out of financial assistance to the distressed workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," they added.
"An early recall also allows us to be with our families whom we want spared the burden of worry," the six said.
OWWA, or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, is currently in the process of distributing P20,000 aid to the thousands of OFWs affected by the massive layoffs in the Kingdom triggered by the slump in oil prices, and P6,000 to their families in the Philippines.
Some 9,000 to 11,000 OFWs are currently stranded in Saudi Arabia waiting for their backpays and end-of-employment benefits from their former employers.
Bello had earlier sacked two labor attachés in Saudi Arabia—Resty dela Pena and Jainal Rasul—for their alleged negligence in addressing the plight of the stranded OFWs.
In a recent meeting with families of the affected OFWs in Manila, Bello apologized for the misconduct of the POLO officers, calling them "polio officers," and promised to investigate all the reports of neglect and abuse. He also asked for a complete list of all negligent and abusive officers.
Bello is currently in Saudi Arabia—his second trip after assuming his post—to oversee the government efforts in repatriating the stranded OFWs. —Ronaldo Concha/KBK, GMA News