Bello eyes additional labor personnel in Saudi Arabia
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is looking into adding more personnel to the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Saudi Arabia to address the needs of OFWs, particularly those rendered jobless by the slump in oil prices.
"Unang-una, we will recommend additional officers kasi dito lang sa Jeddah there are more than 300,000 migrant workers. Ilan lang ang tao dito, wala pa yatang 20," said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who went to Saudi Arabia last week to check on the condition of the stranded OFWs there.
"How can you cater the needs of our contract workers kung ganyan lang ang manpower mo?" he asked.
In his visit to a labor camp by Saudi Oger that houses most of the stranded OFWs, Bello said they are also looking into transferring the POLO to a bigger office in order for it to accommodate more OFWs in need of government help.
He also said they are studying additional logistical support for the POLO.
Meanwhile, Bello clarified that he did not dismiss the labor attaches in Riyadh and Jeddah but only had them recalled for not giving immediate relief to the stranded OFWs. He said he is now aware of the big problem the POLO faces considering its lack of manpower and logistics.
Bello has since left Saudi Arabia for Oslo, Norway, to join the government team negotiating peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines.
There is an estimated 9,000 to 11,000 OFWs who lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia due to the downsizing of construction companies triggered by the drastic drop in oil prices. The government has started exerting efforts to repatriate the affected OFWs. A cash aid of P20,000 were also given to them plus P6,000 to their families in the Philippines. —Ronaldo Concha/KBK, GMA News