11 February 2009
RP posts urge to work for amnesty of stranded, overstaying Filipinos; Migrant group says numbers of stranded are increasing
An alliance of overseas Filipino workers' organizations based in the Middle East today is urging all Philippine Embassies and Consular offices in the Middle East to work for amnesty of distress, stranded and overstaying OFWs.
"It is now imperative for all Philippine posts abroad especially in the Middle East to work for amnesty of stranded and distress OFWs and it could possibly be done via diplomatic way," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.
Migrante chapters in the Middle East have noted an increasing numbers of stranded and overstaying OFWs in the Middle East, "the latest addition are the about 37 OFWs seeking refuge at Khandara Bridge in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia," Monterona added.
Monterona opined this figure may gone up in the coming months as many especially those who will be sporadically laid off may choose to stay in the Kingdom in the hope of getting another job than to go back home without a job.
"According to our Migrante-Jeddah chapter, the numbers of distress OFWs in Khandara bridge swell to about 100 during day time. It is to their observation that there are a considerable numbers out there," Monterona added.
Monterona warned that a similar situation may happen again like during the last quarter of 2007 and early months of 2008 where more than 200 stranded and overstaying OFWs have sought refuge at Khandara bridge and eventually stage protest actions inside the PCG premises against the slow action on their miserable plight provided by the Philippine Consulate General office in Jeddah.
Monterona said working for an amnesty is for the interests of stranded and overstaying OFWs. "That is why RP posts abroad are their to protect the interests of OFWs, and represents OFWs interests in relation to the host government's internal or immigration policies," Monterona averred.
"We would like to remind our diplomatic officials that many of the distress and stranded OFWs are victims of labor malpractices, non-payment of salaries, overworked, and sexual and physical abuses committed against them by their employers thus they abscond from their abusive employers," Monterona added.
The OFW leader said if absconding is a crime in most of the Middle Eastern countries, RP diplomats must not think and treat them that way, but instead provide them swift assistance for the early resolution of their cases.
"But our distress OFWs often caught between a "devil and deep blue sea", would choose to be apprehended by immigration police hoping for their eventual repatriation," Monterona added.
"That is why a pro-active actions and measures must be taken by our diplomatic officials; first to swiftly approach distress, stranded and overstaying OFWs especially those in Khadara bridge to get their names, make a lists and records their respective cases, and study for a possible amnesty deal for their repatriation," Monterona said.
Migrante-ME said the case of increasing numbers of distress, stranded and overstaying OFWs in the Middle East must one of the concerns the Arroyo administration must look at and provide the needed assistance to them.
"But to our dismay, during her recent side trip to Saudi Arabia from Davos, Switzerland, Mrs. Arroyo did not even mention about the miserable conditions of distress, stranded and overstaying OFWs. She was just busy enough selling OFWs labor cheap in the Middle East," Monterona added.
Monterona ended saying "this is one of the issues that will be brought up by Migrante International for tomorrow's internationally coordinated protests against the Arroyo administration's continued neglect, super state exactions of fees and charges from OFWs over burdening OFWs and their families, and yet without any assistance given to them, only false hopes and promises," # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012