The Philippines and Saudi Arabia are developing a joint special hiring program for skilled Filipino workers, the Department of Migrant Workers said Friday.
DMW Secretary Susan Ople said the possibility of the joint special hiring program was raised due to Saudi Arabia’s push to develop its tourism sector.
“We discussed the possibility of the Philippines and Saudi Arabia having a joint special hiring program for skilled Filipino workers because they are expecting a huge demand, especially for their tourism sector. They are embarking on expansion plans, and they want to attract more tourists to Saudi Arabia,” Ople said at a press conference.
“We said that perhaps if they give us the numbers and the profile ofworkers needed, then we will continue to discuss if there is a needfor the DMW to work closely with TESDA and other institutions and to put together a special hiring program just to meet the demands and requests of Saudi employers for skilled workers as well as the Saudi government,” she added.
Saudi Arabia plans to bring investments to the Philippines as well, Ople also said. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
“I also met with the Minister of Investment, and he echoed the same thing. He said he would also like to explore the possibility of bringing Saudi investments to the Philippines, facilitating Saudi investments in the Philippines, and looking at tourism opportunities parang exchanges for both countries,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ople disclosed that “significant progress” has been made on the long-standing issue of unpaid claims of OFWs in the Saudi kingdom.
“To those claimants waiting, it is clear and we really feel the commitment of the KSA, we have already achieved significant progress,” Ople said.
“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, 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.
“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 e 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.