Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople and Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian today signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) providing P10,000 as financial aid for each worker seeking unpaid wages from several Saudi construction companies that declared bankruptcy from 2015 to 2019.
The financial aid is a joint undertaking between the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and its attached agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“We will release the humanitarian assistance within the next two weeks with DMW-OWWA leading the distribution efforts,” Secretary Ople said.
She added that the DMW will also engage DSWD in talks on how both departments can assist OFW children left under the guardianship of next of kin or household members other than the actual parents in light of the recent tragedy befalling OFW Virginia dela Pena’s children.
“Early on, the President directed the DMW to extend its programs to OFW families especially the children. He also mentioned helping the claimants while talks are underway with the Saudi government regarding the workers’ unpaid back wages. We are grateful to have the DSWD as our partner on both fronts,” she said.
“Bagamat yung development side o yung pag-aruga sa mga migrant workers natin ay nasa Department of Migrant Workers o DMW, kami sa DSWD, susuporta kami dahil may mga programa rin kami para sa mga pamilya ng mga OFWs natin na nandito sa Pilipinas or yung mga pabalik pa lang,” Secretary Gatchalian added.
Under the agreement, DMW-OWWA and DSWD will provide P5,000 each, or a total of P10,000, for each of the estimated 10,000 workers with pending claims for unpaid wages.
A total of P100 million has been set aside for the financial aid, with each department providing P50 million.
On the part of the DSWD, the agreement covers the implementation of its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) Program in partnership with the OWWA.
The DSWD shall also provide technical assistance to the OWWA to ensure the smooth implementation of the financial aid program.
For its part, OWWA shall create an electronic or digital portal that will allow the intended OFW beneficiaries to register and avail of the assistance package.
This mechanism will also enable the OWWA and the affected OFWs to update their previous database and information for future reference.
Both the OWWA and the DSWD shall designate a focal person from their respective agencies to oversee the process and monitor compliance in the disbursement of public funds.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. had earlier instructed Secretary Ople to extend assistance to the unpaid workers while waiting for talks between the Saudi government and DMW to commence this month.
During the November 2022 APEC Summit in Bangkok, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman informed the President that the Saudi government will shoulder the payment of unpaid back wages from several Saudi construction firms.