PRRD instructs DSWD to include OFWs in its protective custody as 114 distressed workers from Saudi Arabia arrives

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo relayed to the public the report of the inter-agency Humanitarian Mission team in Riyadh that 118 stranded OFWs from Saudi Oger Takashussi Camp were repatriated today at 1:10 AM ( ETD- past midnight) via SV 860- Saudia Airlines. ETA in Manila today is at 4:10 PM. In this camp, Usec. Vilma B. Cabrera and the DSWD Team sucessfully debriefed /counseled 37 OFWs who were at first adamant to go home and would like to stay or transfer but were finally convinced to go home for their own safety.

DSWD Team Riyadh team led by Perlita Panganiban is coordinating with the Embassy, POLO and inter-agency officials in providing airport assistance to the said OFWs. Sec. Taguiwalo has lauded the team's efforts and their assistance to the OFWs.

"We deeply understand why many of our stranded kababayans in the KSA want to stay despite the fact that their employers have essentially laid them off because they say they can't pay the workers any longer. Our OFWs have sacrificed so much to work overseas, so it's understandable that they would want to remain in the KSA to get new jobs. Still, the the risks and hazards they face staying in the camps are higher so it is best that they return to the Philippines," said Sec. Taguiwalo.

Sec. Taguiwalo said that she is waiting for further instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte as to what the DSWD should be in the lives of returning OFWs. At the onset, she said that the DSWD can consider putting together a plan of action to provide immediate assistance to the OFWs even as other government agencies are doing the same. "Pres.Duterte has instructed the DSWD to include OFWs in the protective services of the department," she said.

"What is important in the immediate is to reach out to all stranded OFWs suffering in camps all over the KSA and determine means to help them survive their ordeal until they can return home, " she said.

Source: Philippine Information Agency