22 December 2008
Immediate repatriation is the most valuable gift the Arroyo govt. could give to distress and stranded OFWs this Christmas
"The most valuable gift the Arroyo administration could give to distress and stranded OFWs in the Middle East is their immediate repatriation so that they could celebrate a Merry Christmas along with their loved ones and start a brand new life back home," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.
Migrante-ME said OWWA's Christmas treat with matching red carpet pagsalubong to returning OFWs is merely a traditional gimmick to show the public that the Arroyo administration "truly" cares for OFWs and their families, but in fact it is not.
Monterona said hundreds of distress OFWs in the Middle East are hoping that the Arroyo administration through concerned government agencies like DoLE, OWWA, and POLO could give them the most valuable Christmas they would receive – and that is their immediate repatriation.
This is exactly the Christmas wish of the 16 OFWs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia who have stopped their work in protest of their employer Annasban company who refuses to give them their normal vacation despite that they already have completed their 2-year work contract.
The 16 OFWs are Ruby Bumagat, Monalisa Nartatis, Melody Mercado, Marcela Candaba, Analisa Subagan, Joanne Velasco, Marygrace Fortalesa, Winifreda Santos, Josephine de Torres, Nhoormalah Dimaampo, Lorna Quizon, Ruth Gayadan, Fely Chicay, Jassie Sanson, Jeanette Belino, Claire Veloria.
"Some of them have been working for 3 straight years already without vacation", Monterona added.
Monterona said almost everyday the 16 OFWs are sending short messages to him through OFW Jeanette Belino, leader of the 16 distress OFWs, to re-iterate their plea to be home this Christmas, "Reading their SMS is really disheartening, because I knew that the Philippine Embassy, OWWA-POLO could not get them sent to be home this Christmas," Monterona averred.
Monterona said aside from the 16 distress OFWs, there are still 139 OFWs in different Filipino Resource Centers in the Middle East (see attached document in excel format).
This is an addition to the reported 163 distress OFWs in Kuwait. "If this has not been exposed by Migrante, distress OFWs in Kuwait would not be given due attention by the Arroyo administration," Monterona added.
Migrante-Kuwait will be closely following the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait to ensure that the 163 distress OFWs will be repatriated soon as promised by Vice-President Noli de Castro during interviews last week.
To the Arroyo administration, we echo the same OFWs Christmas wish: "Use the billions of OWWA fund and Assistance to the Nationals (ATN) fund so that the many distress and stranded OFWs in the Middle East will be repatriated without delay. A portion of the funds could be used to bail out those retrenched OFWs" Monterona ended. # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator,
Migrante Sectoral Party Vice-Chairperson
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012