Oliver Bugarin 4 0 0 3 min to read

Ople in Saudi Arabia for personal discussions.

Susan “Toots” Ople, secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), is currently in Saudi Arabia for a formal bilateral meeting with the Saudi government.

Ople traveled from Singapore to Saudi Arabia on Thursday as a member of the official group for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit.

At the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD), Adnan Abdullah Alnuaim, Deputy Minister for International Affairs, welcomed her.

Ople will meet with representatives of the Filipino community in addition to Saudi Arabian officials.

She would also check on the welfare of troubled overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at government-run shelters.

When the department’s first budget was approved, Ople thanked the House Committee on Appropriations members.

The DMW has authorized a PHP15.2 billion budget for 2023.

The DMW delegation that spoke to the members of the House appropriations committee about the department’s budget was led by Undersecretary Hans Cacdac.

Ople reported that PHP3.5 billion of the overall approved budget was allotted for the Secretary’s Office and the department’s numerous departments and bureaus.

The DMW’s associated agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), has been given PHP11.7 billion.

The House committee will also approve an increase in the OFW Hospital’s operating and capital budget from its current PHP13 million to between PHP200 and PHP250 million. The OFW Hospital is located in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

As formal bilateral labor negotiations get underway here in Saudi Arabia, Ople added, “we gain inspiration and bravery from the warm words of support for the DMW’s budget from the committee chair Rep. David ‘Jay-Jay’ Suarez and all of its members.

According to DMW data, there would be 187,370 OFWs living in Saudi Arabia in total by 2021, compared to the 54,108 OFWs the department counted between January and June of this year.

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