Stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabi may return to PHL within April
Thousands of stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia will soon return home after enduring dire circumstances caused by the middle eastern country's economic collapse.
A report by JP Soriano on 24 Oras said that more than 5,000 OFWs still in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia may be able to return to the Philippines within the month.
According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has signed the amnesty program that will allow the OFWs to return to the Philippines within 90 days regardless of their expired residence permits, loans, or lack of exit visas.
"Yan ang misyon. Take advantage of the amnesty nang makauwi na," said DOLE Undersecretary Dominador Say.
OFWs have been documenting their living conditions, including sleeping on cramped and dirty floors and living on porridge for months.
In one video, they had pleaded for help from the government claiming that they have been jobless for more than eight months.
"Hanggang ngayon, graduation ng mga anak namin dito lahat, ilan kami dito may pamilya. Yung iba hinihiwalayan na dahil hindi makaintindi yung mga asawa nila sa kahirapan ng sitwasyon namin dito," one of them said.
"Humihingi lang kami ng tulong sa ating Presidente na maiabot to sa kanya para kami ay matulungan dito, na makauwi na, dahil hirap na hirap kami," he added.
The OFWs have been stranded because their residence permits have expired, they have unpaid loans, or lack exit visas.
The DOLE said it has seen the videos and its representatives will fly to Saudi Arabia to help the OFWs. Rapid response teams from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, will be going as well.
The DOLE hopes to have the OFWs returned to the Philippines before President Rodrigo Duterte's visit in Saudi Arabia on April 10.
The Philippine government will pay for the OFWs flights, as well as the end service benefits should Saudi Arabia employers fail to give it to them. —Jessica Bartolome/ALG, GMA News