MANILA – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Friday disclosed that “significant progress” has been made on the long-standing issue of unpaid claims of overseas Filipino workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) amid talks with the Saudi government.
“Doon sa mga naghihintay po na maayos itong claims, malinaw po at damang-dama namin yung commitment ng Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, significant progress na po ang nakamit natin (To those claimants waiting, it is clear and we really feel the commitment of the KSA, we have already achieved a significant progress),” DMW Secretary Susan Ople said in a virtual press briefing.
“This is a firm commitment on the part of the Saudi government, by virtue of order coming from the Crown Prince (Mohammed bin Salman) himself,” she added.
Ople said authorization has already been given for funds to be processed, not only for Filipino claimants, but also for other nationalities including that of KSA.
“The funds to pay for the unpaid claims are now with the Ministry of Finance of the Saudi government, under the full authorization of the central government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” she said.
Although the committee of the KSA government is still in the discussion stage for the implementation of claims’ processing, Ople noted that the country will have direct coordination for updates through the newly designated focal persons.
“They requested for a specific focal person from the Philippines side, and they appointed one focal person, dati kasi puro by committees, ngayon (before it was mostly by committees now) two individuals were designated as the focal person for each country,” she said, referring to Migrant Undersecretary Bernard Olalia as the country’s focal person.
Ople, meanwhile, said that details, such as the exact figure of claims as well as the mechanism for claiming, are still to be disclosed in the next coming weeks or months.
As to the rollout, the Migrant Workers secretary did not give a specific timeline.
However, she mentioned that the DMW has proposed a government-to-government payment mechanism for easier processing of OFW claims, especially considering the cases of deceased claimants.
Moreover, Olalia said that claimants shall receive their full payment alongside end-of-service benefits for the entitled ones.
The KSA government is said to conduct its validation and processing of claims through its employment database and other legal references.
“Mahigit 12,000 po yung na-validate natin at ininclude natin sa tinatawag nating green list, at nai-submit po natin bago yung May 24, nai-submit natin yung list of claimants na yun, at yun po ay tinanggap po ng kanilang representative (We have validated over 12,000 [claimants], and we included them in what we call green list that we have submitted before May 24. We have submitted the list of those claimants and their representative received it),” he said.
Olalia likewise said that the KSA shall still include those claimants only found in their employment database, even if their profiles are not found in the updated list of claimants submitted.