Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Senator Loren Legarda, Senate foreign relations committee chair, today called on the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Foreign Affairs to intensify representations with the Saudi government for the immediate repatriation of stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
She also called on personnel of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to actively assist OFWs who want to legalize their status after Saudi King Abdullah gave them a three-month grace period.
The stranded Filipinos are considered undocumented and exit passes have to be secured from Saudi authorities before they may be allowed to return home. Others have pending labor cases.
"The repatriation of hundreds of stranded Filipinos in Jeddah, some of whom are sick, and others even have children in tow, should be a priority of our government. This problem has gone on for years. Repatriation of stranded Filipinos should be a matter of course. It is not the subject of an 'if and when' proposition," the Senator added.
The Senator also noted that the repatriation of stranded Filipinos in Jeddah have been intermittently undertaken over the years. Some of the stranded Filipinos have been out of status in Jeddah for many years and have been appealing to the government for repatriation assistance over the years.
Estimates by Migrante indicate that the number of stranded Filipinos who have camped outside the Consulate General in Jeddah have reached almost 1,500.
"The Migrant Workers Act mandates the extension of government assistance to distressed Filipinos, including their repatriation. The DFA and the DOLE need to deliver on its obligations under the law. We should not pay lip service to our overseas Filipinos," Legarda said.
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