Ople: Saudi payment just a matter of time

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File photo

THE Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Friday, May 26, 2023, assured the over 10,000 displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that their back wages from their time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) will be paid in just a "matter of time."

In an online media briefing from Saudi Arabia, DMW Secretary Susan Ople said that they are confident that the long-awaited payment to the displaced OFWs will be coming soon after receiving positive updates from the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD).

"This is just a matter of time as they only want to make sure that only the right people will be get paid," said Ople.

"This is a firm commitment on the part of the Saudi government by virtue of the order of the Crown Prince himself," she added.

This was seconded by DMW Undersecretary Bernard Olalia, who said they are confident that the eight-year wait for many OFWs is coming to an end.

"All our workers, who waited for eight years or since 2015, will finally be getting their full payments," said Olalia.

Ople said one of the cause for their confidence is the fact that the funds to be used to settle the back pays is now allocated with the Saudi Ministry of Finance.

"What is clear is that there is the fund that is sufficient to pay not just the claims of the unpaid OFWs but all the other claims, including those of their own people," said the official.

Similarly, the DMW chief said a committee has been created by the Saudi government tasked to handle matters related to the unpaid wages.

"This committee that meets every week reports directly to the Office of the Crown Prince. It includes the MHRSD along with the Ministries of Finance and Justice," Ople said.

Olalia, for his part, said he has been designated as the focal person for the Philippines side regarding the unpaid claims issue, while an MHRSD official has been named his counterpart for the KSA side.

"Before, we don't know who we should talk to. Now, we have a direct line regarding any issues on this subject," said Olalia.

Ople and Olalia are in Saudi Arabia to conduct bilateral talks with their counterparts regarding several labor issues, including the unpaid wages of displaced OFWs.

It can be recalled that at least 10,000 OFWs have been displaced and left unpaid way back in 2015 and 2016 after several Saudi construction firms had declared bankruptcy.

In November 2022, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has committed to shoulder the unpaid salaries of the displaced KSA OFWs. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)

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