AROUND 10,000 former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) are set to receive their P10,000 cash assistance within the next two weeks, according to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

In a press conference after the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), DMW Secretary Susan Ople said they are looking at distributing the P10,000 as financial aid for each worker before the end of March.

“We will release the humanitarian assistance within the next two weeks with DMW-Owwa(Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) leading the distribution efforts,” Ople said.

Earlier, the DMW announced the provision of P10,000 financial aid for each displaced OFW seeking unpaid wages from several KSA construction companies that declared bankruptcy from 2015 to 2019.

The program is a joint undertaking between the DMW-Owwa and the DSWD, with each agency allocating P50 million, for a total of P100 million, for the provision of the cash assistance.

This means that DMW-Owwa and DSWD will provide P5,000 each, or a total of P10,000, for each of the displaced worker with pending wage claims.

As provided in the MOA, DMW-Owwa shall create an electronic or digital portal that will allow the intended OFW beneficiaries to register and avail of the assistance package.

On the other hand, the DSWD shall provide technical assistance to the Owwa to ensure the smooth implementation of the program.

The agreement also states that the Owwa and the DSWD shall designate a focal person from their respective agencies to oversee the process and monitor compliance in the disbursement of public funds.

Some 10,000 OFWs were displaced and left unpaid in 2015 and 2016 after several Saudi construction firms had declared bankruptcy.

Subsequently, the Philippine government repatriated the displaced OFWs, while continuously negotiating for their unpaid claims to the Saudi government.

In November 2022, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has committed to shoulder the unpaid salaries of some 10,000 displaced KSA OFWs.

According to the DMW chief, negotiations are still ongoing over the guidelines of the payment of unpaid wages to former OFWs in KSA.

“The reckoning time was November of last year and March is the start of initial talks,” said the official.

“It’s with the government of Saudi Arabia, so everything will be done bilaterally, between the two countries,” Ople added. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)