MANILA – Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) repatriated from Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Wednesday morning.
The 128 OFWs who worked for oil, gas and petrochemical contractor Mohamad-Almojil group were stranded for years in Saudi Arabia without pay or benefits before being able to seek government help.
President Rodrigo Duterte personally welcomed the Filipino workers, who were grateful for the government support. In his speech, Duterte promised continuing assistance for the OFWs, including scholarships for their children.
“Kung hirap kayo, let me know. I-e-enroll ko kayo sa 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program), para siguradong meron kayong bigas sa inyong mesa,” he said.
[“If you are having difficulties, let me know. I will enroll you in the government’s welfare program, so you will be sure to have food to eat.”]
The president also handed OFWs P5,000 each, on top of the P26,000 earlier given by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) as livelihood assistance. The government also promised livelihood support and assistance should they choose to seek employment abroad.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello also assured OFWs that the government will ensure that the repatriated workers receive their back wages and end-of-service benefits.
“Iyong sweldo nyo, pati end of service [pay], kukunin ng mga abogado natin doon. Hindi natin sila pauuwiin hangga’t hindi nila nakukuha ang sweldo niyo,” Bello said, eliciting cheers from the OFWs.
[“Our lawyers will get your salaries and end of service pay. We won’t let them return without getting your pay.”]
According to the labor chief, this group will not be the last to be repatriated to the Philippines.
Earlier this month, representatives from different government agencies went to Saudi Arabia to help in the repatriation of stranded Filipino workers who lost their jobs due to a recent slump in oil prices.