Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said Duterte issued the directive during a Cabinet meeting last Monday in Malacañan.
“The president wants to repatriate the stranded workers. He said they should be given assistance immediately,” Panelo told reporters in an interview Tuesday.
“He (Duterte) wants them (workers) to be repatriated via a chartered flight,” he added.
Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Abdullah Mamao has been directed to fly to Saudi Arabia to arrange the repatriation.
Panelo said Duterte is worried about the plight of stranded Filipinos who may go hungry if they remain in Saudi Arabia. He is confident that the affected workers will be able to find work upon their return to the Philippines.
“They are skilled workers. I’m sure they will find jobs here,” Panelo said.
Previous reports said thousands of Filipinos are in danger of losing jobs in Saudi Arabia as the Middle Eastern country faces a huge budget shortfall and falling oil prices.
There are about one million Filipino migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.