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20,000 Saudi-bound OFWs stranded in Philippines

Rudy Santos - The Philippine Star
20,000 Saudi-bound OFWs stranded in Philippines
This situation was revealed by recruitment consultant and migration expert Manny Geslani, following claims by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) that the deployment of OFWs is rising in 2022.
STAR / Rudy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — About 20,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) assured of jobs in Saudi Arabia are stranded in the Philippines because of a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) order suspending deployment until giant Saudi construction firms settle the unpaid wages of some 11,000 Filipino employees.

This situation was revealed by recruitment consultant and migration expert Manny Geslani, following claims by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) that the deployment of OFWs is rising in 2022.

Geslani said deployment overseas will not reach the projected 1.8-million mark this year and may even be lower than the 1.4 million posted in 2021 if the DOLE continues to snub the Saudi labor market.

Since Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III imposed the temporary deployment ban in March last year, 10,000 household service workers and 10,000 construction and skilled workers from the Philippines have not been allowed to fly to their jobs in Saudi Arabia.

Bello imposed the deployment ban to demand that the Saudi government pay the wages owed by its giant construction companies to 11,000 OFWs since 2015.

Private recruitment agencies catering to the Saudi job market have complained of severe financial losses due to the prolonged ban.

POEA administrator Bernard Olalia boasted of an increase in deployment in 2021, adding that it is rising due to government-to-government agreements with the Saudi Ministry of Health, Germany, South Korea and Israel.

In September, Olalia said 30,000 land-based and 40,000 sea-based OFWs were leaving monthly.

However, Geslani said the prospects are not so good in 2022, considering that there should be 300,000 OFWs deployed to Saudi Arabia annually, but none of the jobs can be had with DOLE’s ban still in place.

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