02 April 2008
Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson
Migrante hits "partial" repatriation of stranded OFWs in KSA, elsewhere
An alliance of organizations composed of overseas Filipinos and their families today criticized the Arroyo government's partial repatriation of stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia and other countries.
According to Migrante International, government announcements about the number of OFWs to be repatriated cover less than half of all those possibly detained in Saudi Arabia's inhuman deportation centers and an even smaller percentage of all OFWs stranded in other countries.
"The number of stranded OFWs climb every day. Reports received by our office now indicate that the number of OFWs in Saudi Arabia's deportation centers may have swelled to as much as 500, including around 200 women and some children. These numbers far exceed the less than 200 OFWs the Arroyo government said it would repatriate," says Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante International Chairperson during her group's picket-dialogue this morning in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City .
Joining Migrante International were recently repatriated OFWs and relatives of those still stranded in the Kingdom.
Bragas-Regalado added that it is also incumbent for the Arroyo government to immediately reimburse the stranded OFWs who were compelled to purchase their own plane tickets home.
"To date, not all of the OFWs who paid for their own tickets have received commitments from the DFA or the OWWA that their approximately P20,000 plane tickets will be refunded," she added.
"In addition to those in Saudi Arabia , we're here to demand the swift repatriation of other OFWs also 'stranded' in other countries. In the other countries, many of these OFWs are Filipina domestic workers forced to run-away from abusive employers. In some cases, along with the lack of funds for repatriation -- they are being 'hostaged' by their recruitment agency, employer or host government in exchange for onerous fees for their release," she added, noting that among the biggest concentrations of stranded Filipina domestic workers are in Jordan (numbering about 200) and possibly in Kuwait.
According to the Migrante leader, the onerous fees are either for heavy fines imposed on 'run-away' migrants or allegedly for costs incurred by the recruiter or employer in hiring the migrant worker.
To conclude, Bragas-Regalado said the Arroyo government's criminal neglect of stranded OFWs around the world will be among the issues Migrante International will expose during the Global Forum on Migration and Development that will be held in the Philippines this October. #