By Leonel Abasola

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – Senator Raffy Tulfo and two members of the House of Representatives thanked President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for his efforts after displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) started receiving their back pay from bankrupted Saudi Arabian construction companies after nine years of waiting.

Last Tuesday, President Marcos announced the processing of a total of 1,104 indemnity cheques from Alinma Bank, amounting to PHP868.74 million, through the Overseas Filipino Bank and Land Bank. About 843 cheques have already been sorted out and distributed.

In a statement, Tulfo acknowledged President Marcos’ dedication to prioritizing the welfare of the OFWs dubbed the country’s modern-day heroes. The senator also thanked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for fulfilling his promise.

“Bilang Chairperson ng Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, lubos ang aking kasiyahan dahil matapos ang halos siyam na taon na paghihintay ng ating mga Saudi OFW ay makukuha na nila ang kanilang insurance claims (As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, I am very happy because after almost nine years of waiting for our Saudi OFWs, they will get their insurance claims),” Tulfo said.

“Ito ay bilang pagtupad sa pangako ni Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman na babayaran ng kanilang gobyerno ang ating mga OFW (This is in fulfillment of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s promise that their government will pay our OFWs),” he added.

Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo, chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, also expressed his gratitude on behalf of OFWs to President Marcos, the Saudi government, and the Department of Migrant Workers under the leadership of officer-in-charge Undersecretary Hans Cacdac.

“His (Marcos) strong international and diplomatic relations with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman led to the swift resolution of the matter and the release of pending salaries, wages and end-of-service benefits,” the congressman said.

OFW Party-list Rep. Marissa “Del Mar” Magsino also thanked President Marcos for taking a firm stance on securing the overseas workers’ back pay, a manifestation that the welfare of OFWs continues to be a top priority of the government.

“Sa paninindigan at katapatan ng ating Pangulong Marcos, tayo’y panatag na pagsusumikapan ng ating pamahalaan na maging good news na ang pagbigay ng claims para sa lahat ng naapektuhang OFWs sa lalong madalhing panahon (With the commitment and honesty of our President Marcos, we are assured that our government will work hard to make the filing of claims for all affected OFWs as soon as possible),” Magsino said.

In October last year, Marcos announced that the Saudi government was processing the wage claims of more than 10,000 OFWs who were left jobless after Riyadh-based construction companies declared bankruptcy in 2015 and 2016.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in November 2022 pledged to set aside about 2 billion riyals for the displaced OFWs.

Nearly 13,000 OFWs were laid off when Saudi Oger Ltd., Mohammad Al Mojil Group, and other construction firms in Saudi Arabia went bankrupt, according to data from the DMW.

The DMW records showed 8,829 claimants from Saudi Oger and 3,454 from Mohammad Al Mojil. (PNA)