MANILA: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Monday nearly 70,000 Filipino migrant workers have chosen Saudi Arabia as their destination this year, making the Kingdom the top destination for new overseas Filipino workers.
The Philippines is witnessing a rise in overseas deployment with an increase of around 62 percent in 2022, the same year that Filipino migrant workers contributed about $32.5 billion to the country’s economy.
Saudi Arabia kept its years-long spot as the most popular destination for overseas Filipino workers, or OFWs, with about a third of newly hired workers who left the country in 2023 choosing the Kingdom.
“As of today, 70,000 of our OFWs have already been deployed to Saudi Arabia for employment,” Marcos said during his second state of the nation address in Manila.
More than 67,000 newly hired workers were deployed to Saudi Arabia up until May this year, Department of Migrant Workers data shared with Arab News showed, followed by Hong Kong and the UAE, with around 16,000 and 13,000 OFWs respectively.
After the Philippines lifted a ban on the deployment of workers to Saudi Arabia in November, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman committed that same month to compensate thousands of unpaid Filipino workers during a meeting with Marcos.
“The deployment issue in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has now been resolved … Moreover, the unpaid salaries and other related claims of some 14,000 OFWs, who have been put out of work in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic, are now being processed.
“The crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia himself personally committed to me that the unpaid claims of Filipino workers would now be paid,” Marcos added.
The Saudi Vision 2030 economic diversification plan has boosted demand for Filipino migrant workers, said the Philippine Employment Agencies & Associates for Corporate Employers in the Middle East.
“There is really a lot of demand for skilled and domestic workers and professionals because of the Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia,” PEACEME President Arnold Mamaclay told Arab News in a phone interview.
“The number is expected to balloon because there’s what we call a special hiring program of the Department of Migrant Workers,” he added, without elaborating.
Swift administration in Saudi Arabia is also another factor, Mamaclay said, as in the Kingdom the processes can take between 30 and 45 days, compared to three to four months in other countries.
“With the recent developments, Saudi (Arabia) is a very friendly country to the Philippines,” he said. “They have been very accommodating to us.”