MANILA – The Saudi government pledged to shoulder the wage claims of some 10,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were displaced after several Riyadh-based construction firms declared bankruptcy in 2015 and 2016, Malacañang announced Friday.
The development came after President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. held a bilateral meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the 29th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, Undersecretary Cheloy Garafil, officer-in-charge of the Office of the Press Secretary, said in a news release.
Citing a report from Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople, the OPS said OFWs who worked for Saudi OGer, MMG, Bin Laden group and other construction firms that went bankrupt will receive compensation from the Saudi government.
"So they have set aside two billion riyals to help our displaced workers. So this is really good news and we thank Saudi Arabia," Garafil stated.
Marcos welcomed the latest development, and thanked Prince Mohammed for the "good news" and his "gift" for the displaced OFWs.
“Napakagandang balita talaga. At pinaghandaan talaga tayo ni Crown Prince. Kaya’t sabi niya ‘yung desisyon na ‘yan ay nangyari lamang noong nakaraang ilang araw at dahil nga magkikita kami at sabi niya ito ‘yung regalo ko para sa inyo (That is indeed a very good news. Crown Prince prepared for it. He said he made the decision just a few days before our meeting and stressed that it is his gift for us)," Marcos said, as quoted by the OPS.
Marcos said there was also an assurance from the Saudi Ministry of Labor that there will be no more repeats of unpaid salaries among Filipinos in the Middle East country and a commitment to establish an insurance system for OFWs.
“Sila mismo magbibigay ng insurance kung sakali man mangyari ulit ‘yan na malugi ‘yung korporasyon na tinatrabahuhan nila at hindi nila makuha ang kanilang sahod, ‘yung insurance ang magbabayad. So, marami rin talagang tinutulong sa atin ang pamahalaan ng Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (They will grant an insurance, just in case any corporations where they are working declare bankruptcy and fail to give their salaries. So, the government of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is really helping us)," Marcos said.
During the bilateral meeting, also discussed were investment opportunities and energy issues, which Garafil said the President hopes to discuss with the Saudi Prince, also known as MBS, when he visits the Philippines.
“That would be very good kung makabisita sa atin si Crown Prince at hindi lamang tungkol sa mga labor, pati na ‘yung mga investment na pwede nating gawin (if the Crown Prince is able to visit us and we will discuss not only labor issues but also investment opportunities,” Marcos said. (PNA)