A big group of distressed OFWs stranded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia returned to the Philippines today, Tuesday, 25 October 2016 at 1:30 in the afternoon, onboard Saudia Airlines flight SV 872.
OWWA Officer-in-Charge Carmelina F. Velasquez, along with other government officials, welcomed the repatriated OFWs. Likewise, the government representatives oriented the distressed OFWs on the programs and services available to them. Upon assumption to office in August, President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued a marching order to immediately heed the call for help of the OFWs. Thus, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello lll went to an official mission in Riyadh and created a composite team that was dispatched to Saudi Arabia in order to assess the condition of the Filipino migrant workers, ascertain their needs, craft mechanisms to address these needs, including the OFWs’ option for repatriation.
As part of the government’s commitment to bring home the OFWs, a total of 2,031 OFWs have so far returned to the country. The figure covers the period from July 2016 to October 24, 2016.
Meanwhile, as of 21 October 2016, OWWA has extended Relief Assistance Program (RAP) to 18,255 stranded OFWs disbursing a total of P400,804,031.06. These OFWs include those who are still at worksites in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, and those who had been repatriated. In relation to this, RAP was also provided to 10,846 families with a total sum of P68,516,000.00. Total cost for the financial aid from the last week of July 2016 up to 21 October 2016 was placed at a total of P469,320,031.06.
The OWWA Augmentation Team sent to KSA assisted in the processing of RAP applications, and distributed food and hygiene kits to 13,245 OFW availees which amounted to P2,310,295,82. Meanwhile, an Augmentation Team comprising of OWWA personnel will be sent to Saudi Arabia today as the previous team has already reported back.
At the home front, post- repatriation service expenses covering land transportation, food and toiletries to OFWs accommodated at the OWWA Halfway Home reached a total of P1,541,553.95 which covers the period July 2016-October 21, 2016.