PH spent P70.6M to assist Filipinos in Saudi Arabia in 2013—DFA
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) described 2013 as “a crisis period” as the agency spent almost P70.6 million to help overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia affected by the country’s “Saudization” policy.
“More than 4,167 Filipinos from Jeddah [were repatriated] and close to P70.6 million [was spent] in assisting distressed OFWs in 2013, a year best defined as a crisis period due to the mass repatriation and rush in legalization of work status in Saudi Arabia,” the DFA said in a statement late Wednesday.
“The repatriated Filipinos are among the more than 28,000 who rushed to the Philippine Consulate General from April to December to seek assistance in either their repatriation or the transfer to legal sponsors,” it said.
Saudi Arabia implemented its “Saudization” policy early 2013 but gave a grace period to allow illegal foreign workers to either fix their work papers or be sent home.
More than 1,500 Filipino workers flocked to the consulate in Jeddah and set up a tent city there while they waited for their papers to be processed or their exit visas to be released.
“At the height of the crisis, the consulate took in close to 450 distressed Filipinos. In 2013 the DFA spent almost P10.8 million in providing accommodation, food, children’s formula and basic necessities for them,” the foreign affairs office said.
“At year end, most of the Filipinos have successfully legalized their work status or have been repatriated,” it said.
Of the total number of repatriated overseas Filipinos, around half or 2,000 were women most of whom ran away from their employers, while nearly 900 were undocumented Filipino children. There are still around 500 still awaiting for the processing of their exit visas, the DFA said.
According to the 2012 figures of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, there were 330,040 newly hired and rehired Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia.