Bello to lead 40-man delegation to Saudi to assist stranded OFWs
Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello III will lead a 40-man delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia next week to assist stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there.
This was disclosed by Administrator Hans Cacdac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) during a dialogue held at the House of Representatives between lawmakers, government officials, and families of stranded OFWs in Saudi.
“Next week, tutulak ulit si Secretary Bello [sa Saudi]. He will lead another delegation. It is a 40-person strong delegation with other government agencies,” Cacdac said.
Apart from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the delegation will also be composed of representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
“TESDA will be there para i-assess ang skills ng workers para sa pag-uwi nila,” he said.
Cacdac said among the topics to be raised during the delegation’s meeting with Saudi officials is the commitment of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to waive immigration penalties of the OFWs.
Cacdac also reported to the lawmakers and the families of OFWs that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has committed P249 million in assistance, which will be sourced from the President’s discretionary fund.
“This is on top of the P500 million assistance coming from the DBM,” he said.
The POEA official added that there will also be a reintegration fund for the OFWs who are set to return to the country.
Meanwhile, lawmakers and advocates of OFW rights scored the DFA for snubbing the dialogue.
“Nasaan yung lead agency at wala yung leader dito?” Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo said.
“Napakahalaga sana mag-usap ang DFA at DOLE. Medyo masakit sa kalooban sa civil society groups na nandito, araw-araw nakakausap namin mga pamilya, pero ni isang miyembro ng DFA eh hindi nila magawa dumalo,” Susan Ople, heads of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, added.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier tasked his officials to ensure the immediate repatriation of stranded workers in Saudi affected by retrenchments amid the oil crisis plaguing construction companies.
According to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, they have provided a total of P58.66 million in relief assistance for affected OFWs and their families. —ALG, GMA News