AS soon as the Saudi Crown Prince announced that he will shoulder the unpaid wages of 10,000 displaced OFWs in Saudi six years ago, scammers quickly offered services to affected workers.
Last week, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. During the meeting, Prince Mohammed said the Saudi government will set aside funds to settle once and for all the demand of the Philippine government.
Around 10,000 Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia were laid off in Saudi in 2015 and 2016 after their employers Saudi Oger, MMG and Bin Laden group declared bankruptcy.
“There is no middle man here,” Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said Monday.
“This is a purely government to government discussion at the heart of which is yung welfare ng ating affected displaced OFWs. So kung may lumalapit po sa inyo nagsasabi sa inyo na ito ang paraan para makakuha kayo ng gains niyo kaagad o sinasabi sa inyo na pahingi ng contact details at kami na ang magsasabi sa inyo kung anong developments, hindi po totoo ‘yun.”
DMW officials said they have been receiving numerous messages especially from social media inquiring about the claiming process.
“And napansin namin sa DMW that they have been asking each other and may mga lumalapit na din claiming to know information that really no one possesses at this time because we’re still in the stage of first acceptance of the good news and second, moving towards the next steps in operationalizing the gains of the bilateral talks between our president and the Crown Prince,” she said.
Ople noted that on the part of the DMW, only she and Undersecretary Hans Leo Cagdag know of the issue’s institutional history and that they are officially authorized to relay information to the public regarding all concerns about the compensation.
Individuals pretending as DMW employees and promising claimants or their families assistance will be arreted, she said.
The secretary also assured claimants and their families that they have “set in motion” everything needed to ensure a smooth, transparent and efficient consultative process between the two countries.
The DMW will be working very closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the communications team of the President through the Office of the Press Secretary to make sure no disinformation will happen.
Ople also assured everyone that a timeline will be set in place and that they would try to stick to it as much as possible. She also asked for further indulgence as procedures on both camps would have to take time.
“Alam naman natin when there are large amounts of money involved and this is not our money, the funds coming from the Saudi government. So we also need to understand that they have their own processes and they have their own list of claimants.,” she said.
Photo by Izel Abanilla. (From left) Welfare and Employment Undersecretary Hans Leo Cagdac, DMW Secretary Maria Susana V. Ople, Policy and International Cooperation Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne M.Caunan