OFW fund on Duterte SONA 2017
On July 24, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA).
On his SONA, he announced that he ordered to increase the Overseas Filipino Worker’s (OFW) fund from P400 million to more than P1 billion. This only means that he also gives value to the Filipinos who are working away from home. Those who are sacrificing to be away from their families just to be able to provide the needs of their loved ones.
“They are our heroes. They and their families have sacrificed much to the—for the country. We all know how a large part of our economic—economy comes from their remittances,” President Duterte said.
“That is why to ensure that their rights are protected, I ordered the increase of our assistance to the OFW from P400 million to more than P1 bilion,” he added.
Due to visa crackdown in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte negotiated with the Government of Saudi Arabia on April 2017 that resulted in an amnesty. The amnesty allows undocumented Filipino workers to be repatriated without penalty. They can also return to KSA if they have legal documents.
Repatiated OFWs July 2017
The 291 repatriated OFWs last July 20 of this year were given P5,000 cash assistance and those who needed a place to stay were accommodated at the Overseas Workers welfare Administration (OWWA) hostel. They were accommodated there with free food too.
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has extended assistance amounting to P5,000 to women OFWs with kids.
The Philippine government has already extended help to a total of 7,697 distressed OFWs from Saudi Arabia. Some are still waiting for their flight back home but they already have exit visas. The government of Saudi Arabia has estimated that there are around 15,000 undocumented OFWs.
There are only more than half of OFWs that were repatriated. The government said that some did not avail the free ticket from the government. Those who bought tickets and went home using their own money were not included in list.
The amnesty period lasted only until July 24, 2017. Those who will be caught undocumented will be deported, fined and banned from returning to the kingdom.