While the Philippine media is busy elsewhere, it was reported in the Saudi Arabia press that the Duterte administration recently sent a team with Php 500 million (SR40 million) in financial assistance to help Filipinos going without pay at Saudi Oger.
The amount will be distributed to the thousands of OFW’s affected by the economic slowdown, with each individual getting P20,000 (SR1,667) plus P6,000 (SR500) for their families back home.
According to the report, President Rodrigo R. Duterte sent a “high-profile team that comprised Atty. Guiling Mamondiong, new chief of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); Silvestre Bello III, labor secretary; and John Bertiz, Acts-OFW partylist Congressman.”
Aside from the financial assistance, Bello said that they were also tasked by the President to convey his “sincere thanks” for the OFW’s landslide vote of confidence in him, and to get an accurate picture of the situation on the ground.
“We are here to learn your real status and I don’t want to get doctored information. Don’t be shy in telling us your problems,” Bello said at Saudi Oger on Friday.
The team also pledged to help the OFWs, not just with the education of the children back in the Philippines, but also in improving their skills. Speaking on the important role of the TESDA in facilitating vocational and technical training for the improvement of workers’ qualifications, Atty. Mamondiong said, “This is one of the reintegration programs being featured including livelihood and micro-businesses beneficial to the returning expatriates.”
For their part, the Saudi OFW community welcomed the visit and the assistance from the government. The report quotes Saidali Malic, the Duterte Middle East Movement secretary, as saying that “their happiness and relief could not be described upon hearing the good news from Bello that they are here for a special rescue mission to hear personally and sincerely address the controversial issues facing them for months without proper assistance received from the Philippine Embassy.”