Saudi Arabia’s king Salman releases royal order to help stranded OFWs

admin   •   August 5, 2016   •   9451

IMAGE_AUG-05-2016_UNTV-NEWS_SAUDI_ROYAL-DECREE

RIYADH, KSA — Through a royal decree, Saudi Arabia’s king Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has ordered immediate attention to the problems being faced by thousands of Filipino workers in the country.

According to Philippine Embassy Officer-in-Charge Iric Arribas, measures have been discussed during their meeting with representatives of the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development. Aside from repatriation, the Saudi government has vowed to assist the affected Filipinos by administering their transfer of employment to other companies in the country that offer job vacancies.

“We went to the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development last week. I was with Labor Under Secretary Ciriaco Lagunzad, POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac and our Labor attache here, Rustico dela Fuente,” Arribas said.

“They [Saudi representatives] brought us good news that King Salman has issued a royal decree saying, those with expired iqamas and the penalties incurred will be waived. The will also help in facilitating the transfer of sponsorship,” he added.

For now, negotiations are being held to clarify the details of implementation of the said royal decree.

According to Arribas, for now, only big companies like Saudi Oger and Saudi Bin Laden group are among those mentioned in their dialogue with the Saudi ministry of labor.

Nevertheless, they will not set aside the situations of other Filipinos who also have concerns against their respective companies.

He appeals for patience and understanding from our compatriots because they also need to act in accordance with the saudi government.

“As of now, those who are not included in the [mentioned] groups of Filipinos. The assistance for them will be processed next time. But for now, the program of negotiation is only for the OFWs stranded in big construction companies.”

Next week, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is set to return to Saudi Arabia to personally attend to the developments of the negotiations.

(EUGENE BARDOQUILLO)

DILG warns of charges vs LGUs that reject entry of returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   May 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has warned local government units (LGU) of facing charges for rejecting overseas Filipinos returning to their localities after serving their quarantine period for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Año stressed that non-acceptance of OFWs who wish to return to their hometowns would mean violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and would incur serious consequences.

“Hindi pwede na sasabihin ninyo na: ‘Zero COVID kami kaya hindi kami tatanggap ng OFW.’ Hindi pwede iyan, (You can’t say: “We’re zero COVID so we will not accept OFWs.” That’s not acceptable),” Año said.

“I myself will make sure na hahabulin ko kayo (to go after you),” he warned.

Secretary Año emphasized the importance of proper coordination between the LGU and the national government in ferrying OFWs to their respective hometowns.

With proper communication, the LGU will be able to plan ahead for the arrivals of the OFWs and provide them the much-needed assistance.

“Ang gusto ko may tatlong araw na aabisuhan ang ating mga LGUs bago ang biyahe kasi maghahanda pa iyan ng sasakyan na magsusundo pati ang kanilang isolation facilities ay ihahanda nila at syempre dapat alam nila ang pangalan ng mga uuwi,” Año explained.

(What I want is to inform LGUs three days ahead of the scheduled trip because they need to prepare transportation and they need to set up their isolation facilities. Also, they need to know the names of those arriving.)

Criticisms have been mounting with regard to the government’s handling of OFWs in quarantine facilities as they have been delayed for so long in addition to the hassle of getting their COVID-19 clearance to finally go home. 

One complaint came from Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez who vented his ire on Facebook after a number of OFWs were sent to his locality without proper coordination. MNP (with details from Joan Nano)

Duterte orders PhilHealth to make premium payment for OFWs voluntary

Marje Pelayo   •   May 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has directed state insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to make premium contributions voluntary for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) due to mounting complaints from Filipinos here and abroad.

READ: PhilHealth’s 3% mandatory pay hike amid global pandemic draws public ire

The President wants to ensure that no further load will be added to OFWs at this time of health and financial crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Nag-issue po ng direktiba ang ating Presidente sa Philhealth para gawing boluntaryo ang pagbabayad ng OFWs ng Philhealth premiums, [The President has already directed PhilHealth to make payment for PhilHealth contributionrs for OFWs voluntary,]” Roque confirmed. 

Roque, being one of the principal authors of the Universal Health Care Act during his time as Representative of Kabayan Partylist in the 17th Congress, stressed that there was no provision on his version of the law that orders mandatory additional premium contribution among OFWs.

He added that it was PhilHealth that included such provision as it is the one that crafted the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the said law.

Roque also clarified that PhilHealth premiums will only increase by 0.5%, and not 3%.

“Wala po sa batas na nagsasabi na dapat patawan ang mga OFWs ng karagdagang premiums sa pamamaraan na nais ipatupad ng Philhealth, [Mandatory payment of premium contributions for OFWs was not included in the original version the way PhilHealth wants it to happen,]” Roque.

“Iyan po ay nasa implementing rules and regulations, [They included it in the implementing rules and regulations,]” he added.

Roque also clarified that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) do not require payments of PhilHealth premiums prior to processing of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

DOLE’s one-time COVID-19 cash aid for displaced OFWs faces shortage

Marje Pelayo   •   April 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Sunday (April 26) reported that the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic seeking cash aid from the government has exceeded its target. 

According to DOLE, the government has already received a total of 233,015 requests for cash assistance from affected OFWs.

This figure is far higher than the set target of 150,000 beneficiaries for the P1.5 billion fund of DOLE’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program (DOLE-AKAP) program that provides a one-time P10,000 or $200 cash aid to qualified OFWs.

DOLE eyes requesting for supplemental budget to accommodate more OFWs during this time of health emergency. 

Of the total number of requests, 118,134 were received by Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) from workers onsite while the rest were submitted by repatriated OFWs to OWWA and DOLE regional offices in the country.

DOLE has announced that a total of 49,040 OFWs are already set to receive the cash aid after meeting the requirements — some 34,000 of them remain in their respective host countries due to lockdowns while more than 15,000 have been repatriated or have existing contracts but unable to leave for their country of destination due to travel restrictions.

Those eligible for the assistance come from both land-based and sea-based workers, DOLE said.

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