Mid-east OFW group welcomes PH VP visit

A FILIPINO migrant rights group with chapters in Arab countries on Thursday said it welcomed the reported visit of Vice President Jejomar Binay next week.

VP Binay, on his first official trip in the Middle East,  will be hopping to Kuwait, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and then the United Arab Emirates.

“We, OFWs in the Middle East, especially here in Saudi Arabia, and those in the United Arab Emirates and in Kuwait, will be delighted to see and meet VP Binay so that we could personally bring to him various OFWs concerns and issues,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said.

Monterona said they have been expecting VP Binay to visit Saudi Arabia last December but it was postponed citing conflict of schedules and earlier commitment by the Vice President.

Monterona said on top of his group agenda with VP Binay, if they’ll have a chance to meet him, is the protection of OFWs including domestic helpers and construction workers.

“DH and construction workers are the most vulnerable OFWs sub-group as victims of abuse, maltreatment, and labor malpractices,” Monterona added.

He said various Migrante chapters in Saudi Arabia and in other Arab countries have been receiving five to 7 cases daily.

Monterona said: “Specifically Migrante-Saudi Arabia will be bringing to VP Binay’s attention the unsolved cases of mysterious deaths including the case of murdered OFW-DH Romilyn Eroy-Ibanez, among others.”

On early week of January, Migrante-Saudi Arabia launched a campaign dubbed “Justice for murdered OFW Eroy-Ibanez, Justice for all OFWs victim of abuse” that gathered a wide support from OFWs around the world.

Mario Ben, chairperson of Migrante-Saudi Arabia, said they will put on the table for discussion with VP Binay the case of overstaying jailed OFWs at Malaz central jail.

“There are about 48 of them who claimed they already completed their respective jail terms but are still languishing in jail,” Ben added.

According to Migrante’s monitoring there are about 200 OFWs in jail at the Malaz central jail alone. It closely estimated 1,800 OFWs detained at various jails in the oil-rich Kingdom.

Two weeks ago, Migrante chapters in Saudi Arabia simultaneously launched a campaign with a slogan “Release and repatriate all overstaying jailed OFWs”.

“We are expecting that VP Binay will commit himself to attend and proactively act on pressing OFWs issues and concerns like  protection from abuse, maltreatment, labor malpractices, combating human and drug trafficking victimizing OFWs, and the 100+ stranded in Jeddah, some with children, and those 8 OFWs on Saudi death row including the case of Don Lanuza,” Monterona said.

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