The Duterte government brought home Friday another batch of distressed overseas Filipinos from Saudi Arabia affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Some 301 distressed Filipinos from the Kingdom, including six infants, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 via a Philippine Airlines chartered flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Special Envoy to Saudi Arabia Robert E.A. Borje, who accompanied the repatriates in their journey home, expressed his gratitude to those who made the repatriation mission possible.
He thanked the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, the Consulate General in Jeddah, the Department of Foreign Affairs, other participating agencies and the Saudi Arabia government.
The Special Envoy also thanked His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud for supporting the repatriation of overseas Filipinos.
Earlier this year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud assured President Duterte during a phone conversation that the Kingdom would continue to work with the Philippine government in upholding migrant workers’ rights as well as extending assistance in repatriating distressed Filipinos.
President Duterte sent a high-level delegation to the Kingdom headed by the Special Envoy to enhance bilateral ties, advance labor reform cooperation and ensure the welfare of Filipinos in the Arab country.
Friday’s repatriation was the second to be conducted by the Philippine government this month. Last June 19, 347 overseas Filipinos were flown home also via a chartered flight.
Two repatriation flights from Jeddah and Riyadh are expected in July, according to foreign affairs officials.
The repatriates received P10,000 cash assistance each from the Philippine government upon their arrival in Manila, based on the instruction of President Duterte.
“Bilang tulong po sa inyo, I have instructed Department of Foreign Affairs to use Bayanihan 2 funds to give all repatriated OFWs today P10,000 each as reintegration financial assistance,” President Duterte said in a video message to the OFWs.
PAFA Borje cited President Duterte’s continuing care and concern for overseas Filipinos in distress situations due to the pandemic and reiterated the Philippine government’s commitment towards OFWs.
The recent repatriation missions are anchored on President Duterte’s promise to care for overseas Filipinos around the world, particularly with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Kalinga at Malasakit for OFWs remains a key priority for the Duterte administration.
Accompanying PAFA Borje were Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Enrico Fos, and Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary for Global Media and Public Affairs JV Arcena.
As of June 18, 2021, a total of 403,234 Overseas Filipinos had been repatriated by the government since the start of pandemic. Some 105,582 are seafarers while 297,652 are land-based OFs.
Saudi Arabia hosts more than 800,000 Filipinos, the highest in any Gulf state, according to a 2020 government estimate.
About half of the total number of Filipinos work as domestic laborers, while others are employed in the kingdom’s construction, outsourcing, and healthcare sectors. PND