Over 19,000 OFWs repatriated from MidEast since Duterte took office –DOLE
Some 19,000 stranded and undocumented OFWs have been repatriated from the Middle East since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in July last year, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
In a news release on Wednesday, DOLE said the 19,201 OFWs were repatriated through the Relief Assistance Program (RAP) of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an agency under DOLE.
Most of the repatriated workers were from Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar, all in Saudi Arabia, the country hardest hit by the oil crisis that rocked the Middle East last year.
The number also included the 139 OFWs who were granted amnesty by the Saudi Arabia government as part of its 90-day amnesty for all illegally staying foreigners there.
"Through our repatriation program, we manifest the government’s response to ensure the welfare and safety of our modern heroes and bring them back home to their families," Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said.
Aside from documentation, the OFWs were also provided with monetary and livelihood assistance upon their return.
They were also given access to job fairs in various provinces in the country by OWWA and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and skills development training by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who had a three-nation state visit to the Middle East during the Holy Week, brought home an additional 100 OFWs — 63 women, 55 men and 20 children — from Saudi Arabia.
About P500 million was spent on repatriating the OFWs, the DOLE said. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News