18 February 2008
Letter to the Editor
This is in response to the article posted on 17 February in your website that said:
The Philippine Consulate in Jeddah reported that 922 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were stranded in the Kingdom with no contracts and jobs have already been deported back to the Philippines. But this happened only after the OFWs have gone through a lot of hardships including living in tents under a bridge
for more than a year.
"Stranded OFWs in Jeddah had to Camp Out Under Bridge to be Repatriated"
BY AUBREY SC MAKILAN
Bulatlat Vol. VIII, No. 3,
February 17-23, 2008
URL: http://www.bulatlat .com/2008/ 02/stranded-
ofws-jeddah- had-camp- out-under- bridge-be- repatriated
The same article reported further that:
Meanwhile, Consul General Pendosina N. Lomondot said the last group of 75, all male, departed Friday on board a Gulf Air flight. The updated report from the consulate stated that 922 OFWs have been repatriated.
While Migrante Saudi Arabia wishes to thank out-going Consul General Pendosina Lomondot for his assistance to the 922 'stranded' and overstaying compatriots who were repatriated during his last year in Jeddah, we wish to reiterate that the Consular officials were only able to accomplish that because the said OFWs flooded the Consulate premises.
They were forced to do it and do it fast or suffer further embarassment. The 922 were repatriated terefore, not because officials of the Consulate were doing what they were supposed to do ~ of assisting our kababayans during their time of need.
As to the last group of 75 who were supposedly repatriated last Friday, we wish to express our disbelief. Maybe it was a few Fridays back. How many Fridays has it been since June 2007 when they accomplished the feat of repatriating a huge number? Definitely, it was not last Friday, 15 February or the Friday before that.
Migrante Saudi Arabia's verification on the status of 'stranded' OFWs who camped out under Al Khandara Flyover in Jeddah since December last year, confirmed the following:
- Only 23 women were confirmed repatriated so far, including the 17 picked up under Al Khandara on February 5 and the five picked up earlier on the same Bridge.
- Of the 24 men who submitted themselves to 'due process' and were picked up at the Consulate, one was confirmed returned to his employer, 13 was sent to Riyadh and 10 were remaining inside Building 2 of the Deportation Facilities in Jeddah.
- Of the 80 women who were sent to the Deportation facilities on February 10, none were repatriated yet.
Inside the Consulate, 88 men are still camping out and waiting for a window of hope for their repatriation.
This comprises a total of 198 'stranded OFWs' in Jeddah alone, the bulk of whom camped out under the Al Khandara Flyover and then trooped to the premises of the Philippine Consulate. This number is even more than the 179 that Migrante Saudi Arabia reported on February 3, which Undersecretary Rafael Seguis even questioned.
And as we frequently say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The number does not include the 16 drivers from a transport company in Dammam who complained the employer slashed their salary by 50% through contract substitution; and, some 8 others who went to the Consulate last week but opted to find work after a few days of waiting.
Still, there are a lot more others (probably hundreds, even thousands) doing odd jobs, getting paid lower and scrimping their hard-earned money to feed their families while waiting for the right opportunity to get back home.
We therefore dare the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to do their math truthfully instead of providing false information.
Sa migrante at sa bayan,
Andrew M. Ociones
Migrante Saudi Arabia
Tel. No.: +966-56-679- 3202