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Cacdac to discuss OFW unpaid wages, other issues during KSA visit

MANILA: Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac will visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) this May to discuss the unpaid wages and benefits of about 10,000 displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

In a news release on Tuesday, Cacdac said the visit also aims to further strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.

‘On our list of topics for discussion with our Saudi counterparts is the continuing disbursement of claims due our workers,’ he said.

Cacdac said that among the bilateral issues that he will take up with KSA officials are the strengthening of institutional mechanisms that would assure fair, ethical and safe recruitment and employment of OFWs.

He will also tackle Saudi Arabia’s request for more Filipino workers to help in its Vision 2030 development program, which aims to increase the Middle Eastern country’s diversification economically, socially and culturally.

Over 10,000 OFWs, as well as thousands of other foreign workers in Saudi Arabia, lost their jo
bs between 2015 and 2016 after their companies declared bankruptcy.

The issue of unpaid wages started to move in November 2022, or after almost a decade, when Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) told President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. during a meeting that the Saudi government was ready to take on the financial settlement of the claims.

During the meeting, the Crown Prince informed President Marcos that his government was setting aside a SAR2-billion fund for this purpose.

In the third quarter of 2023, the DMW submitted to Saudi authorities a list of 10,554 displaced Saudi OFW claimants with verified iqamas or residence permits.

In November and December 2023, some 1,500 Saudi claimants started receiving their claims checks from the Saudi Alinma Bank, representing the amounts due to them from their bankrupt companies.

The DMW then entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Landbank of the Philippines (LandBank) and the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBANK) to expedite the processing and encashment of cla
ims checks to affected OFWs and their surviving heirs.

Cacdac expressed hope that the next tranche of claims check distribution will occur during the second quarter of 2024.

Cacdac was appointed as ad interim DMW Secretary by President Marcos on April 24 after serving as officer-in-charge of the DMW, following the passing of former Secretary Susan ‘Toots’ Ople in August last year.

Source: Philippines News Agency