4 June 2021 – The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) will lead the establishment of an inter-agency task force that will oversee the streamlining of processing of blood money claims.

Blood money is the financial compensation awarded to families of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were killed outside of the country.

To date, the Authority has received no less than 10 complaints on the delays in processing of blood money claims in Saudi Arabia, with some complaints dating as far back as 2010.

In a meeting with officials from ARTA and the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA), Philippine Embassy in Riyadh Third Secretary and Vice Consul Paolo Zurita identified the “unique” legal system of other countries and the lack of manpower in the embassy as some of the challenges in processing the blood money claims.

Zurita said the embassy is struggling with a backlog of active cases because they only have one staff assigned to handle them all.

Among the agencies that will be tapped to man the IATF are DFA-OUMWA, Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Labor and Employment-Philippine Overseas Labor & Office (DOLE-POLO), Public Attorneys Office (PAO), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).

The Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and DFA-OUMWA will also facilitate a virtual conference meeting with the heirs of the blood money.

“I think it’s an excellent way to allay the fear of the heirs and also a way to show them that we are actively working on the cases,” Zurita said.

Secretary Jeremiah Belgica, ARTA director general, encouraged his fellow government officials to continue working to streamline processes for the people’s convenience.

“The first thing that government officials must understand, I do believe, is we need to keep the hopes of the people up, kasi pag ‘yon ho ang nawala sakanila na parang wala nang nagtatrabaho, wala nang pag-asa, napakahirap,” he said during the meeting.

“Sa bandang huli po, ang makikinabang po rito ay yung taong bayan, pangalawa, yung mga agencies po na would strengthen the process,” he added.

The said agencies are set to conduct another meeting later this month to iron out details on the creation of the task force.