Because of unpaid wages to Filipinos in Saudi Arabia amounting to P4.6 billion, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is seeking a ban on the deployment of workers to the kingdom.
“I sent a memorandum to the President (Rodrigo Duterte) requesting his permission to consider a deployment ban to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia if they cannot pay the money that our OFWs have worked for so many years. So that’s the plan, we’ll study it,” he said partly in Filipino during the Laging Handa briefing.
In 2016, Bello said 11,000 OFWs in Saudi Arabia have not received their salaries, prompting Duterte to authorize “me to bring all of them home.”
“We repatriated our compatriots involving about PHP3 billion to be able to bring all of them back home. But before doing that, we authorized a lawyer provided by the assistance to national by the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) to pursue the claims of our OFWs,” he added.
Bello believed that the host country should prioritize the plight of the Filipino workers since there is already a ruling for the OFWs to be compensated.
“That was 2016, it is now 2021 – there is already a decision, to pay our overseas workers but they are still not being paid. There’s the money, the claim of our overseas workers amounts to PHP4.6 billion that is due to our more than 9,000 overseas workers. So, I said if they don’t pay that, there is no use sending our overseas workers there,” he said.
He said he directed Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Hans Leo Cacdac and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) head Bernard Olalia to study the possibility of a deployment ban.
“Maybe it’s high time, we have to show the people of Saudi that our people deserve justice because they’ve been toiling for years just to get these claims of theirs,” he said.