DEAL SEALED. Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople and Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian (seated, 2nd and 3rd from left) sign an agreement for financial aid for overseas Filipino workers at Blas F. Ople Building in Mandaluyong City on Saturday (March 11, 2023). Some 10,000 workers will receive PHP10,000 each while waiting for their wages from their Saudi Arabia employers who declared bankruptcy from 2015 to 2019. (Courtesy of Susan Ople Twitter)

MANILA – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), will soon release the PHP10,000 humanitarian assistance for unpaid Saudi Arabia claimants following the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on Saturday.

Some 10,000 Filipino workers who have pending claims for unpaid wages from Saudi construction companies that declared bankruptcy from 2015 to 2019 will benefit from the humanitarian aid.

Under the agreement, DMW - Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and DSWD will set aside PHP50 million each for the financial aid.

"We will release the humanitarian assistance within the next two weeks with DMW-OWWA leading the distribution efforts," DMW Secretary Susan Ople said during the MOA signing with DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian at the Blas F. Ople Building in Mandaluyong City.

Ople said DMW and DSWD will also discuss how they can assist children of overseas Filipino workers left under the guardianship of next of kin or household members other than the actual parents.

The officials said they want to prevent a repeat of the tragedy that befell the four children of Saudi OFW Virginia dela Peña.

Dela Peña’s four children aged 6, 8 ,10, and 14 were stabbed to death by her partner in their house in Trece Martires City, Cavite last week before also killing himself.

The OFW, who arrived in the country Saturday, said she was talking to her partner on the phone when the killing happened.

She said she heard her children’s pleas.

"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," Ople said.

Gatchalian said the DSWD is in full support of DMW’s programs.

"Kami sa DSWD, susuporta kami dahil may mga programa rin kami para sa mga pamilya ng mga OFW natin na nandito sa Pilipinas or ‘yung mga pabalik pa lang (We at the DSWD support their programs for the families of OFWs who are here in Philippines or those who are about to go home),” Gatchalian said.

On the part of the DSWD, the agreement covers the implementation of its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations 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.

OWWA shall create an electronic or digital portal that will allow the intended OFW beneficiaries to register and avail of the assistance package.

The OWWA and OFW can also update their previous database and information for future reference.

The OWWA and the DSWD shall designate a focal person to oversee the process and monitor compliance in the disbursement of public funds.

The signing was witnessed by DSWD Undersecretary for Operations Group Jerico Francis Javier, DMW Undersecretary for Foreign Employment and Welfare Services Cluster Hans Leo Cacdac, and OWWA administrator Arnel Ignacio. (PNA)