MANILA: Saudi Arabia is to expedite the repatriation of almost 200 distressed Filipino workers following a meeting between high-level officials on both sides.
The workers, who are mostly domestic helpers, are at the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah while their cases are being processed. Most of their cases involve the non-payment of salaries.
A request for help was made during a meeting on Dec. 21 between Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje and Mohammad Ibrahim Jalal, the Saudi Social Welfare Administration’s (SSWA) director-general from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development for Makkah Al-Mukarramah Region.
Also present was Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola, who asked for the cases to be fast-tracked.
The two sides underscored the importance of close cooperation, agreeing to increase collaboration to help the distressed workers.
Philippine officials also met the distressed workers, who received care packages and financial assistance from the president and the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
Borje expressed President Rodrigo Duterte’s gratitude to Saudi officials for their commitment to helping Filipinos facing problems in the Kingdom.
“The president’s representative is on an assistance-to-nationals mission in the Middle East and North Africa to assess the conditions of Filipinos there,” the presidential palace said.
Under current arrangements recruitment agencies facilitate the papers of workers with labor disputes and other problems. They also make referrals to the SSWA to speed up case processing.
Borje has visited Tunisia as part of his three-nation tour. He is also in Saudi Arabia to assess the conditions of Filipinos in the Kingdom. He proceeds to Bahrain to complete his mission.
The Philippines Statistics Authority said earlier this year that Saudi Arabia remained a top destination for overseas Filipino workers.