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Pinoy Abroad

Left with no income, OFWs in Saudi Arabia resort to digging through trash for food

A group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, have resorted to digging through trash for food.

A video they took show them diving into trash bins, but leaving empty-handed.


With no work and therefore no pay for the past four months, these OFWs no longer know what to do in order to survive.

"Hindi na po namin alam kung ano ang aming gagawin. Ultimong pagkain namin hindi namin alam kung saan kukuhanin," one of them said in video shown on "Unang Hirit" on Thursday.

One of the struggling OFWs, Reynan Bancoro, said they received food packs, but it was severely lacking. He was only one of over 200 OFWs who live together in one villa.

According to the report, around 400 OFWs in Riyadh have resorted to looking for food in garbage cans.

Their companies gave them allowance but the amount varied, and there are OFWs who weren't given financial aid at all. They also did not receive the $200 financial aid from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh.

Some of them even sold their cellphones just to have cash, he added, and even their passports. They were still able to get in touch with families in the Philippines, but even video calls have to be staggered because they don't have money to pay for wifi.

Asked if they weren't afraid of getting sick from eating garbage, he answered, "Wala naman na kaming choice na matakot na magkaron kami ng sakit. Kesa naman sa wala kaming makain. Mag-survive na lang kami."

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) administrator Hans Leo Cacdac assured that they are now on top of the situation.


"Napatawag na natin ang kanilang recruitment agency, sila ay nagta-trabaho sa isang aluminum company. Itong agency ay pananagutin na natin at naitunog na natin ang POEA ang kawalan ng aksyon ng kanilang ahensya," he said.

He also said that these OFWs should have been repatriated amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused lockdowns in cities around the world.

"Isasagawa na isama sila sa repatriation," he added.

The OWWA plans to have them back in the Philippines within the month. However, they will still have to process their exit visas.

In the meantime, the POLO was ordered to give the OFWs food assistance until they are able to return home.

The POLO has also resumed holding food drives, after halting operations because some personnel tested positive for COVID-19, Cacdac said.

—JCB, GMA News