OFW losses eyesight, seeks repatriation before she expired

SANA tulungan naman nila akong maka-uwi kahit mamatay ako duon; basta duon lang sa Pilipinas (I hope they will help me go home though I’ll die there, only there in the Philippines),” said an undocumented female overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who has recently lost her eyesight due to mild stroke when asked by officers of Filipino migrant rights groups providing assistance to distressed and abused OFWs in Saudi Arabia.

Migrante affiliate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, identified the OFW as Virgina Gabiling, 47, from Negros Occidental.

A friend of OFW Gabiling informed Migrante-Jeddah chairperson Marlon S. Gatdula about OFW Gabiling after she suffered a mild stroke a month ago that causes the loss of her eyesight and frailty to walk.

Last week, Migrante officers headed by Gatdula and M-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona visited OFW Gabiling who is temporarily seeking shelter from a friend.

During a recorded video interview facilitated by M-ME’s Monterona, OFW Gabiling tearfully narrated her situation; the conditions that forced her to run away from her original employer-sponsor, and finding another job until she became sickly and then the recent stroke she had suffered.

“We’ve found out that OFW Gabiling was a victim of an illegal recruiter but managed to sneak her out of the country and was deployed in Saudi Arabia in 2004,” Gatdula averred.

OFW Gabiling confirmed that she had indeed asked assistance from the PH Consulate but instead of extending aid to her, an official of the PH consulate scolded her. She could well remember the name of the PH consulate official.

“Her friend and fellow OFW Jackie went to the PH consulate twice already seeking assistance for OFW Gabiling, but until now no assistance was provided to her,” said Ms. Beng Medina, chairperson of a chapter of Gabriela, a women’s rights group, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Migrante and Gabriela in Jeddah provided a copy of the recorded interview with OFW Gabiling to PH consulate last October 29, a Monday.

“OFW Gabiling is still awaiting assistance from the PH consulate. We will closely follow her immediate repatriation to the PH consulate, which in the words of OFW Gabiling was neglecting her, the same accusation we’ve usually heard from distress OFWs,” Medina added.

72-year old OFW remains pending repatriation

Meanwhile, Migrante-Jeddah is pressing the PH consulate on the repatriation of the remains of 72-year old OFW Mateo Amaro who passed away on September 18, 2012.

OFW Amaro’s remains is stored at the morgue of King Fahad General Hospital in Jeddah.

Yesterday, Migrante and Gabriela members offered a prayer and lighted candles for the repose of OFW Amaro’s soul. Migrante’s Gatdula revealed that OFW Amaro had twice visited him in his dreams asking to fast track his repatriation so that his family and relatives could see him.

OFW Amaro, with the help of Migrante-Jeddah officers and concerned OFWs, was brought and confined at King Fahad Hospital for several weeks as he is suffering then from tuberculosis positive 3 and complications due to diabetes.

OFW Amaro is in Saudi Arabia for twenty (20) long years already. “His being undocumented deprived him to be home, just like the thousands of undocumented OFWs, and reunite with his family,” M-ME’s Monterona on a statement issued Sept.18.

On September 6, M-ME issued a statement criticizing a Jeddah-based Philippine labor official and a welfare officer of OWWA as it accused the latter for not attending the repatriation and for failure to provide the needed assistance, medical care included, to OFW Amaro.

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