Maguindanao readies for return of 7,000 OFWs
COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Maguindanao is bracing for the return of at least 7,000 of its people who are working in Saudi Arabia but would be sent home as the oil-rich kingdom enforces a policy to replace foreign with local workers.
Myra Alih, labor secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said most of those that ARMM officials expect to arrive starting September from Saudi Arabia were domestic helpers.
Domestic helpers became one of the first casualties of Riyadh’s nationalization policy, known as Nitaqat, which aims to create more jobs for Saudis.
Alih said because of the new Saudi labor policy, the ARMM government doesn’t expect the returning OFWs to have jobs upon their return.
The government, she said, is preparing P10,000 for each of the OFWs to tide them over until they find new jobs.
Alih said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has allocated P2 billion for cash assistance to returning OFWs. They could also obtain loans from the P2-billion funding to start livelihoods.
She said other OFWs from Saudi, who would find new jobs elsewhere, could also take advantage of an agreement between Kuala Lumpur and the ARMM government that allows Malaysia to take in qualified OFWs displaced in Saudi Arabia.
Alih said, however, that it would be of great help for OFWs to take vocational courses so they could acquire new skills.
“This is not to demean house helpers but to upgrade them to acquire other vocational skills for extra or better pay,” she said.
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