DSWD to provide counseling to stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia
Counseling and debriefing services will be provided to stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia courtesy of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said Tuesday.
The DSWD is one of the government agencies that will take part in a mission to bring home some 11,000 OFWs stranded in the Kingdom due to a massive layoff triggered by a slump in oil prices.
"Our kababayans are in serious crisis because their employers did not pay their salaries," Taguiwalo said. "They are also confronted by many difficulties caused by the expiry of their end-of-services benefits. Many were not given exit visas after they completed their contracts, and are being delayed for repatriation."
The focus of the month-long mission from August 10 to September 10 are the stranded OFWs in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam/Al-Khobar.
Aside from giving counseling and debriefing services, the DSWD will also help the affected OFWs agree to family reintegration, refer them to after-care services, and provide them with material services.
The department will allot a budget of P50 million to fund the activities and services for the stranded OFWs.
"The DSWD sees it important to take part in this humanitarian mission so we can gauge the impact of such policies on the lives and welfare of our OFWs," Taguiwalo said.
"We hope to come up with findings that can help guide us in the future when it comes to the implementation of the country's export labor policy," she added.
Aside from the DSWD, other government agencies taking part in the mission, which will be led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, are the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Department of Health (DOH).
In an interview on "QRT," DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said Philippine officials in Saudi Arabia will still pursue the OFWs' labor cases against their employers even if the OFWs are already in the Philippines..
"Ongoing po 'yung effort natin na kumbinsihin na 'yung gustong umuwi na umuwi na po at tutulungan po sila with the legal aspect, na [bigyan] sila ng special power of attorney para sa ating embassy at embassy na ho yung bahalang magfollow-up sa kanilang employer," Jose said. —with Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News