Bello admits delays in cash aid distribution to stranded OFWs in KSA
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday said there might be delays in the distribution of financial aid to stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia, noting the number of areas Philippine officials there have to visit.
"Yun pong tulong namin na pinaparating namin sa kanila, 'yung tagti-P20,000 po, ay ayon sa report namin ay nakakarating naman lahat," Bello said in an interview on "Balitanghali."
"Pero siguro merong nade-delay kasi maraming lugar 'yan," he added.
The government, through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), is currently distributing cash aid to the thousands of OFWs currently out of job and stranded in Saudi Arabia due to a massive layoff triggered by a slump in oil prices.
Days since the distribution started, some OFWs and their relatives in the Philippines claimed they have yet to receive the financial help promised by the government when Bello first went to Saudi Arabia last month.
Bello will lead a 41-man delegation to Saudi Arabia next week to check on the progress of the distribution of the cash aid. "Kaya po pupunta kami doon sa Lunes para tityakin namin na 'yung pera na pinadala namin ay makakarating na," he said.
He said they would also try to convince the stranded OFWs to return to the Philippines and assure them that they could still work on claiming backpay and end-of-service benefits owed to them by their former employers even when they are no longer in the Kingdom.
"Titiyakin namin na matutulungan sila dahil ang utos ng ating pangulo ay pupuntahan namin sila dun para iuwi na sila," Bello said.
Under the cash assistance program, P20,000 will be given to the OFWs themselves while P6,000 will be given to their families in the Philippines.
"Kahapon galing din ako sa OWWA office natin at nakita ko yung mga pamilya ng overseas contract workers natin at binibigay naman po yung assistance na P6,000 each," he said. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News