Philippine Assistance Team for OFWs in Saudi Arabia

From Riyadh, 15 Aug 2016, Secretary Abdullah D. Mama-o, Presidential Adviser for OFWs and Head of the Mission to bring home the stranded OFWs revealed today the main contents of the Saudi King’s Royal Decree beneficial to our stranded OFWs. Secretary Mama-o shared the Royal Decree directed to Saudi government authorities, principally the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MOLASD).

This decree:

  1. obligates employer companies with government contracts to release the salaries to their workers as per existing rules and regulations;
  2. authorizes contractors to solve the problems of the workers’ accommodations, food provisions, cleaning and health services;
  3. provides for transport via Saudi Airlines of the workers who wish to leave;
  4. expedites the issuance of final exit visas to those who wish to leave;
  5. restores electricity to the campsites;
  6. authorizes one or more Law Firms to help facilitate the legal procedures in favor of the workers;
  7. requires meetings with concerned ambassadors to clarify to them the stand of the Saudi government in their favor and what the Saudi government is extending to solve the problems; Note: This was already done by Secretary Mama-o
  8. obliges making publicly known the efforts being extended by the concerned Saudi authorities to solve the problematic situation of the expatriate workers, especially the Indian and Filipino workers, and to clarify that the number of affected workers is a very small fraction of the whole expatriate workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and which is connected only with the private sector.

Secretary Mama-o explained that in effect, the Saudi government had on its own part responded favorably to concerns of affected foreign workers mainly Indians and Filipinos and, with all these positive actions mandated by the King and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the tasks of the Philippine Inter-Agency Assistance Team that has arrived in Saudi Arabia would now center on two thrusts, namely:

  1. to cooperate with the appropriate Saudi authorities, mainly the MOLASD, in ensuring that what the King has ordered are duly provided our affected OFWs, and
  2. to engage our said affected OFWs in their campsites to arrange for their repatriation after looking to the preparation and filing of their claims in coordination with the authorized Saudi law firms hired by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Secretary Mama-o added that Team members from the DOH and DSWD ensured health and psychological concerns were fully attended to, while PAO lawyers under the leadership of Secretary P. Acosta, Head of PAO, will help in preparing the individual claims of the workers for submission in coordination with the Saudi Law Firms.

The inter-agency team has visited one OFW campsite in the Riyadh Area, said Secretary Mama-o, with the assistance of the Embassy officers and staff headed by Mr. Iric C. Arribas, Chargé d’Affaires,a.i., to include attached Labor and OWWA personnel headed by Mr. Rustico M. dela Fuente, Labor Attaché.

All of the OFWs, he said, expressed their desire to be repatriated upon being assured that their claims will be filed and processed. He also clarified that as the Royal Decree referred to “workers who wished to leave”, then the Philippine Team is bound to abide by the wishes of the OFWs who might choose to stay on in Saudi Arabia to transfer to other employers.

In the meeting held at the Embassy on August 13th with all the coordinators representing the five OFW campsites in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, they expressed also their desire to be repatriated. Secretary Mama-o will visit other campsites in Jeddah, Al Khobar and other parts of Saudi Arabia. Secretary Mama-o will be issuing guidelines/steps to be followed by all the members of the Mission to facilitate the processing of the claims and transporting back home of the stranded OFWs.

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