The Saudi Arabia government has agreed to allow some 160 "runaway" Filipino workers in the Kingdom to go home, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced Wednesday.
Bello made the announcement at a press briefing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where President Rodrigo Duterte is on a two-day state visit.
"I mentioned to the minister of labor of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that there about more or less 160 runaways and I requested the minister to consider allowing all these OFWS to come back to the Philippines upon the return of President Rodrigo Duterte," Bello said.
Bello said the runaways were mostly victims of illegal recruitment. He said the female runaways were sheltered at the Philippine Embassy's Bahay Kalinga while the male runaways were at a different shelter.
"To my surprise he (labor minister) positively responded to our request," he said.
Particularly, the labor minister, Bello said, agreed to facilitate the repatriation of the 160 runaway OFWs.
Bello said the meeting with Labor and Social Development Minister Dr. Ali bin Nasser Al-Ghafis happened on Tuesday after the signing of a memorandum of understanding on labor cooperation for General Workers Recruitment and Employment.
"Basically this agreement refers to the labor standards that provided to our OFWs like wages, protection from bad treatment, working hours, and other labor issues," Bello said. —Trisha Macas/KBK, GMA News