Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has ordered the recall of two labor attachés in Saudi Arabia for their alleged negligence of duty.
Bello told radio dzMM that the labor attachés in Riyadh and Jeddah did not inform the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) that thousands of Filipinos have lost their jobs there.
"Hindi nila ginawa ang kanilang katungkulan, pinabayaan nila ang ating mga kababayan... Biro mo, isang taon na pala iyan e. Hindi man lang nila ipinapaalam," he said.
He also confirmed that Saudi Oger Ltd., a major construction firm in the kingdom, will downsize its operations and affect some 8,700 Pinoy employees.
Bello said he will personally go to Saudi on Thursday to bring financial aid and offer repatriation to the distressed workers.
He said he will investigate if welfare officers were also remiss in helping their kababayans.
The DOLE, he said, will also coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to assist Filipino expatriates.
As early as October 2015, reports came out of the Saudi Arabian government delaying payments to construction contractors.
In December, the Kingdom announced a series of spending cuts for 2016, including a reported 63 percent cut in infrastructure spending to trim a record budget deficit of close to $100 billion.
That deficit ballooned as Saudi Arabia's income from oil exports plunged in step with the fall in oil prices.
Economists have been warning of the impact of low oil prices on OFWs in the Middle East since the start of 2016.
"One of the growth drivers is remittances, but there are political uncertainties in the Middle East and, of course, oil prices have gone down. So the economies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, are severely challenged. So they might be sending OFWs home," said one economist, Calixto Chikiamco.
The Blas Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, set up to attend to the needs of distressed OFWs, earlier said they are definitely seeing more distressed overseas Filipino workers from Saudi Arabia.
"We are definitely starting to feel it. We are hearing about OFWs not getting paid, their status as foreign workers is in jeopardy," it said.
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