Photo by Nino Jesus Orbeta
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) needs P2 billion additional budget for the repatriation of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“I made an appeal for additional funding because we never know when we will need to repatriate our OFWs and we cannot always rely on the generosity of host country,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said over the weekend.
In the past, the governments of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait agreed to shoulder the cost of repatriation of distressed OFWs.
Bello said DOLE asked for a P17-billion budget for next year, but Congress only granted P13 billion to the department.
Most of DOLE’s annual budget, Bello said, goes to various programs and services for OFWs.
Based on DOLE’s data, 22,000 distressed OFWs in the Middle East countries were repatriated since 2016.
DOLE also established 18 one-stop service centers integrating all frontline services of key government agencies for OFWs.
To strengthen the protection of OFWs, DOLE forged bilateral labor agreements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and several other countries.