OWWA, Migrante clash over cash aid for stranded OFWs
A pro-OFW group on Monday accused the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) of defying orders to distribute cash aid for all distressed OFWs in Saudi Arabia, but the agency was quick to deny this.
In a statement, Migrante International said of the 30 OFWs and their families who went to OWWA's main office last week after meeting with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to claim the financial assistance, only nine received money.
According to Migrante chairperson Garry Martinez, the rest were refused cash assistance—given to OFWs affected by the slump in oil prices int he Middle East—because they were not in OWWA'S "masterlist."
"While we believe that Sec. Bello is sincere in his promise of improved assistance and services to the affected OFWs and families, OWWA’s non-compliance is putting the good secretary in a bad light," Martinez said.
Relief Assistance Program
Under the government's Relief Assistance Program (RAP), a cash assistance of P20,000 shall be extended to retrenched OFWs in Saudi Arabia who have not received their salaries or end-of-service benefits from their former employers. Families of affected OFWs who are still at jobsites shall also be granted P6,000.
Qualified to avail of the RAP are affected OFWs employed by the following companies:
Mohammed al-Mojil Group (MMG);
Saudi Bin Laden Group of Companies (SBG);
Saudi Oger Ltd. (SOL);
Mohammad Hameed Al-Bargash & Bros. Trading & Construction;
Aluminum Company (ALUMCO L.L.C.);
Rajeh H. Al Merri Contracting Company;
Arabtec Construction L.L.C.;
Real Estate Development and Investment Company
"As of this posting, we have been receiving more complaints from OFWs and families, on-site and off-site, nationwide and abroad, of the OWWA’s continuous refusal to follow Sec. Bello’s direct orders," Martinez said.
OWWA: Not true
But according to Josephine Tobia, head of OWWA's Advocacy and Social Marketing Division, there is no truth to Martinez's accusation that they refused to grant cash aid to some OFWs especially those in the masterlist.
"Hindi totoo yun. Ina-accommodate lahat ng OWWA yung claims ng mga OFWs galing Saudi," Tobia told GMA News Online in a phone interview.
Tobia said not all OFWs stranded in Saudi Arabia are included in the initial list, but she assured that they will eventually be included once all claims are identified and processed.
Tobia noted that more than 3,000 OFWs and their families already received financial assistance from the government.
"More than 3,000 OFWs ang nabigyan na ng financial assistance," she said. "Lahat ng stranded OFWs affected sa lay-offs and retrenchment na na-identify ng kanilang companies sa Saudi ang mabibigyan ng financial assistance." —KBK, GMA News