Women OFWs at Saudi deportation facility seek assistance for repatriation

SIXTEEN women overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and another six (6), inside a Saudi deportation center and a jail, jointly seek assistance for repatriation according to a Filipino migrants’ group providing assistance to distress OFWs in Saudi Arabia.

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said the 16 women OFWs at the Dammam Deportation Center and the other 6 in Dammam Central Prison, both in Dammam, eastern city of Saudi Arabia, managed to send an undated letter (see attached) to Migrante officers in Saudi Arabia pleading for their repatriation.

One of the OFWs has two children with her inside the deportation center and another one is pregnant.

Monterona added that the said letter was coursed through a relative of one of the OFWs during jail visitation.

At the bottom part of the OFWs letter it says “Sa darating na State of the Nation Address ni Pangulong Aquino sana po maka-uwi na kaming lahat dito sa deportation center ng Dammam (This coming State of the Nation Address of Pres. Aquino, all of us here at the Dammam deportation center hope to be home).”

“Kaming mga OFWs na nandito ngayon na nakakulong sa Dammam Deportation Center ay nagmamaka-awa kaming humihingi ng proteksyon, assistance, at tulong.. x x x (All of us here at the Dammam Deportation Center is pleading to provide us protection, assistance, and help),” the group said.

The OFWs stated that since their imprisonment, they “did not felt the presence and assistance of the government”.

“Walang nag-aasekaso sa aming mga papeles, travel document, hindi kami dinadalaw ng mga taga-embahada at POLO-OWWA, walang mga gamot at pagkain na ibinigay ng pamahalaan natin (Nobody is attending our papers, travel documents; embassy and POLO-OWWA officials did not even bothered to visit us; no medicines and food from the government),” the jailed OFWs added.

According to Monterona, citing a case brief from Migrante-Saudi Arabia chapter, most of OFWs have pending absconding cases after fleeing away from their erring employers due to abuses and labor rights violations. Most of them eventually became undocumented or illegal overstayers.

No systematic, comprehensive govt. program to uplift OFWs conditions

“It is just unfortunate that despite our consistent campaign to uncovered our undocumented OFWs’ worsening condition not only in Saudi Arabia but the entire middle-east region where there are large concentration of OFWs, the PHL government under the current leadership of Pres. Aquino III remains to play deaf, dumb, and blind, refusing to provide efficient onsite services, assistance, and protection,” Monterona lamented.

Monterona opined there seems to be disconnect between Pres. Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay, the latter being Pres. Aquino’s adviser on OFWs concerns, noting ‘the absence of a systematic and comprehensive government program to uplift the conditions of OFWs especially the thousands of abused, distressed, and undocumented in the Middle East’.

“We are asking if VP Binay, on his capacity as presidential adviser on OFWs concerns, still talks to Pres. Aquino on matters related to the upliftment of OFWs deplorable conditions abroad amid the rise of rights violations’ victims, distressed, and undocumented,” Monterona adding that Aquino III and Binay came from opposing political parties expected to engage in a political showdown come May 2013 mid-term elections.

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