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Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III is set to return to Saudi Arabia next week to bring home the estimated 6,000 remaining stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the Arab country.
Bello said he was ordered by no less President Duterte to facilitate the immediate repatriation of the affected OFWs, who were displaced from large Saudi firms being faced with financial woes.
“The President, when I made the report on our stranded migrant workers. His immediate reaction is go and get them back. Never mind the expense that we will incur. First go and get them back,” Bello told reporters in an interview.
The Department of Labor and Employment earlier reported around 11,000 OFWs stranded in various areas in Saudi Arabia.
Bello noted some of these OFWs have already returned to the country after the Saudi government decided to waive their penalties for their iqama or exit clearance.
He said the remaining OFWs in KSA are those who have yet to collect their monetary entitlements from their previous employers.
“So they would prefer to stay there and gamble to collect their unpaid wages…they are also clinging to the hope their employers will recover and still rehire them,” Bello said.
The DOLE chief, however, said they will try to convince to return upon Duterte’s instruction.
He said they are also currently planning of seeking the intervention of top Saudi officials to help speed up the processing of the affected OFWs. (Samuel Medenilla)