Group wants to probe 1.3-M rials unpaid lease rentals for OFWs shelter in Saudi

A FILIPINO migrants’ rights group in the Middle East today called on the members of the Philippine Congress to conduct an investigation on the alleged 1.3-M Saudi rials (roughly Php.14.5-M) unpaid lease rentals of OFWs shelter rented by the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator, said “a reliable source, an insider at the PHL consulate who requested not to be named, revealed to Migrante officers that the PHL govt. has incurred 1.3-M unpaid lease rentals for an OFWs shelter inside the Al-Mina hajj terminal in Jeddah.”

The Al-Mina hajj terminal is owned and managed by the Saudi government’s immigration authority.

The PHL consulate started renting the shelter in Al-Mina hajj terminal sometime October 2010 when it started the mass repatriation of undocumented OFWs who have camped out under the Khandera bridge in Jeddah.

Monterona said the PHL consulate in Jeddah was forced to stop since July 2011 renting the villa-type building that serves as temporary shelter for undocumented OFWs who have opted to avail voluntary repatriation while the PHL consulate is processing the formalities of OFWs repatriation.

He said undocumented OFWs who ‘surrendered’ for voluntary repatriation especially those coming from outside Jeddah were having a problem where to stay while awaiting the formalities of their repatriation.

“The renting of a shelter inside the Al-Mina hajj terminal was of big help then to undocumented OFWs who were struggling for their daily survival,” Monterona adding “it’s also a requisite for the PH consulate to get focus on the mass repatriation of undocumented OFWs.”

M<onterona said “There is Php.100-M repatriation fund allocated yearly to OWWA by virtue of Republic Act 10022 otherwise known as the amended Migrant Workers Act. Even the DFA has millions of funds allocated for its ‘assistance to the nationals’ services.”

“We want this to be investigated to know what the PH officials in Saudi Arabia headed by PHL ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzadin Tago are doing to solve this issue,” Monterona said.

“We expect to receive a favorable action on this issue from the Senate Labor committee headed by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, and its House counterpart, the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) especially that the budget deliberations for 2013 has started,” Monterona said.

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