By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA – The Saudi government is processing the wage claims of more than 10,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were left jobless after Riyadh-based construction firms declared bankruptcy in 2015 and 2016, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said Saturday (Manila time).
In a media interview in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Marcos said he received assurance from the Arab nation that the unpaid wages of displaced OFWs would be settled.
“Napo-process na ngayon ‘yun (It is now being processed),” he said when asked to provide updates on government efforts to ensure that the back wages of more than 10,000 OFWs are given to them.
“We are already coming to the point na ‘yung detalye na lang ang pinag-uusapan. ‘Yung listahan ng mga claimant ay nalinis na, maayos na (that only the details are being discussed. ‘The list of claimants has been cleared. It has been ironed out). And we are just waiting for the details to be worked out between the Saudi side.”
In a bilateral meeting with Marcos on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2022, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged to set aside about 2 billion riyals for OFWs who were displaced after construction firms in Saudi Arabia went bankrupt.
Marcos said there is no definite date yet as to when Saudi Arabia would release the wage claims.
“I cannot say because it also depends on the internal processes in Saudi Arabia. But, again, I know for a fact that they will be paid. It’s just a question of when,” he said.
“But in concept, in principle, itutuloy talaga nila ‘yung pagbayad doon sa insurance claims ng mga nagtatrabaho sa mga negosyo na nalugi (they will really continue to pay the insurance claims of those who worked in the businesses that went bankrupt).”
Almost 13,000 OFWs were laid off when Saudi Oger Ltd., Mohammad Al Mojil Group, and other construction firms in Saudi Arabia declared bankruptcy in 2015 and 2016, according to data from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
The DMW records showed 8,829 claimants from Saudi Oger and 3,454 from Mohammad Al Mojil.
In March, the DMW announced it would grant PHP10,000 in humanitarian aid to each OFW waiting for back wage.
The funding for the initiative came from the DMW, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. (PNA)