The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said Saudi Arabia has finally earmarked funds to pay thousands of overseas Filipino workers with still unpaid wages.
At least 10,000 OFWs who had worked for several Saudi companies that declared bankruptcy following the economic crisis in 2015 would receive “full payment,” DMW Undersecretary Bernard Olalia said in a media briefing.
In the same briefing, DMW Secretary Susan Ople said Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi “gave us the good news that the funds to pay for the unpaid claims are now with the Ministry of Finance” of the Saudi government,
Ople said that while she did not inquire about the amount allocated for the unpaid salaries, “what is clear is it’s there and it is sufficient to pay not just the claims of the unpaid [Filipino] workers but all the other claims, including those of their own people.”
According to Ople, the Saudi government requested “a bit more time” for the processing of claims, adding that “they said that next month, they may be able to give us more details.”
The government designated Olalia as the focal person for the issue of unpaid wages in the kingdom.
Earlier, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia announced that they are developing a joint special hiring program for skilled Filipino workers.
Ople said the possibility of the joint special hiring program was raised due to Saudi Arabia’s push to develop its tourism sector.
“We discussed the possibility of the Philippines and Saudi Arabia having a joint special hiring program for skilled Filipino workers because they are expecting a huge demand, especially for their tourism sector. They are embarking on expansion plans, and they want to attract more tourists to Saudi Arabia,” Ople said at a press conference.
“We said that perhaps if they give us the numbers and the profile of workers needed, then we will continue to discuss if there is a need for the DMW to work closely with TESDA and other institutions and to put together a special hiring program just to meet the demands and
requests of Saudi employers for skilled workers as well as the Saudi government,” she added.
Saudi Arabia plans to bring investments to the Philippines as well, Ople also said.
“I also met with the Minister of Investment, and he echoed the same thing. He said he would also like to explore the possibility of
bringing Saudi investments to the Philippines, facilitating Saudi investments in the Philippines, and looking at tourism opportunities or exchanges for both countries,” she said.