Bello says OFWs selling blood only do so for going out and drinking

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Wednesday, July 1, that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have reportedly sold blood in Saudi Arabia to make ends meet are only doing so for luxury spending like going out and drinking.

"May mga kababayan talaga tayo na gusto nila ang kinikita nila doon sa kanilang trabaho pinapadala nila sa kanilang pamilya, ngayon 'yung mga para sa mga lakad nila gusto nilang mag inuman ganun, gusto nila, may lakad sila, ang ginagawa nila nagbebenta na lang sila ng dugo," Bello said on Wednesday over the government's daily briefing Laging Handa.

(Some of our countrymen want so bad to send their income to their families in full that if they want to go out or drink, what they do is sell their blood.)

Bello was responding to a report on GMA News where OFWs in Saudi admitted to have sold their blood just to buy food. They are OFWs who have lost their jobs there due to the pandemic.

"Ganyan ang ugali nating mga Pilipino, we are willing to sacrifice anything para lang sa ating pamilya, in fact even dito sa Maynila, may nag-gagawa ng ganyan pag gustong uminom, nagbebenta ng dugo, pero ganun talaga ang situation dun and isolated naman 'yan," said Bello.

(That's how we are as Filipinos, we are willing to sacrifice anything for our familes. In fact even here in Manila, some people do that, if they want to drink, they sell their blood, that's really the situation but that's isolated.)

Bello also earlier downplayed reports that some OFWs in Saudi were scavenging for food, saying that what the Filipinos were doing were getting food items rejected by grocery stores.

Bello said Filipinos would not scavenge food because they are "honorable and dignified."

Repatriating dead OFWs

Bello said they have only until July 4 to repatriate the remains of 274 dead Filipinos in Saudi.

There have been a total of 301 Filipinos who died in Saudi, but 27 have either been buried in Saudi or were already sent home.

Of the 301 who died, 152 died from coronavirus, and 149 died from other causes.

"By July 4 eh dapat maiuwi na natin ang ating mga kababayan and we have to do that dahil kung hindi ililibing na po ng Saudi government ang ating mga kababayan, so we are doing our best to meet all the requirements," said Bello.

(By July 4 we have to be able to bring them home because if not, the Saudi government will bury them there, so we are doing our best to meet all the requirements.)

Bello said they have P700 million left for the repatriation and the P10,000 one-off financial assistance to displaced OFWs but that they would be asking for more budget from President Rodrigo Duterte as they expect to repatriate 500,000 more. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.