Migrants group urges PNoy to deploy envoy to Saudi

CONCERN over the domino effect of Arab nations’ protests to reach Saudi Arabia, an alliance of Filipino migrant workers’ group Sunday  urges President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to name and immediately deploy PH envoy to the oil-rich Kingdom.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said: “It is of the best interests of OFWs in Saudi Arabia to have its PH envoy as soon as possible, as head of the diplomatic post, in time of political uncertainties in the region.”

Monterona said more than five (5) months now when former Philippine ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio Villamor ended his tour of duty following the succession of the Aquino administration. “But, up to this date, there is no PH ambassador to Saudi,” he added.

“We could not understand, despite clamor from Saudi-based OFWs, why PNoy could not appoint a PH envoy to Saudi particularly now that the latter’s services are badly needed in time of political uncertainties in the Arab region,” Monterona averred.

Citing local reports, there are planned protests on March 11 by some Saudis posted in a Facebook page dubbed as “March 11 Revolution of Longing” which organizers said this is in solidarity with the protests in Libya and Bahrain.

On Saturday, Saudi’s Interior Ministry issued a statement, which said demonstrations won’t be tolerated in the country and its security forces will act against those who would participate in any demonstrations as it ‘contradict Islamic laws and values’.

The warning came after a small group of Saudis staged a separate protest in Qatiff and Huf-hof, both in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, demanding for the release of 15 Shiite leaders.

Monterona said, noting these political developments, it is incumbent upon PNoy to seriously consider now the deployment of PH envoy, as head of diplomatic post, in Saudi.

“It is not just an envoy’s mere presence that is required. But one who could comprehend and able to assess political events and thereby made necessary and timely recommendations in securing the safety of our fellow OFWs just in case the situations worsen,” Monterona added.

Saudi Arabia is OFWs top destinations from 2003-2010, with an estimated 1.2-M OFWs deployed all over the oil-rich country’s major cities and provinces.

In 2010, OFWs from Saudi Arabia have sent a remittance totaling to almost $1.5-M, next to US and Canada. With an increase of OFW deployment, it is expected to reach $2.6-M remittance by the end of this year.

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