(By Ronald O. Reyes, Source: www.manilachannel.com, 21 Aug 2012)
At least 7,000 undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia continue seeking repatriation today, according to the report from migrant’s right group based in Middle East.
The group also said OFWs need over 1.3-M Saudi rials (roughly equivalent to P14.5-M) for unpaid lease rental of their temporary shelter.
The Philippine 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, according to Migrante-Middle East spokesperson John Leonard Monterona.
Also the group sought the attention of Vice-President Jejomar Binay on this issue being the presidential adviser on OFWs concerns.
In his letter to VP Binay dated Aug. 21, 2012, Monterona informed the said 7,000 undocumented were mostly run away due to various labor malpractices forcing them to abscond from their respective employers and are temporarily seeking refuge from their OFW relatives and friends, noting that harboring an absconder is punishable under Saudi immigration laws.
"Because of this unpaid lease rental and due to the demand for payment of the lease rental by the Saudi immigration authorities that manage the Al-Mina hajj terminal, 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."
The group said the undocumented OFWs who ‘surrendered’ for voluntary repatriation especially those coming from outside Jeddah are having problem where to stay while awaiting the formalities of their repatriation.
"We are urging the concerned government agencies to effect a swift and efficient mass repatriation of undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia," Monterona said.
Monterona however said that Foreign Affairs Usec. Rafael Seguis has already replied and assured them the latter ‘will find ways to settle the issue’ with the cooperation of the OWWA and DOLE officials.