25 August 2009
On Arroyo’s forthcoming trip to Saudi
Is but another junket trip unless… she forge OFW protection agreement, legalization of undocumented, bring home the thousands distress and ran away OFWs in Saudi –Migrante-ME
Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East today said the forthcoming trip of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Saudi Arabia is just another junket trip which expenses are being charged from the public coffer without gain for the Filipino people and OFWs in particular.
“The ‘Queen of Junketeers’ is coming to Saudi Arabia only to sell cheap Filipino labor. As expected, her economic advisers will be drumming up that her visit is to lure investors and expand market for Philippine products, foremost is peddling OFWs in the Middle East sans concrete protection to OFWs,” said John Leonard Monterona Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo told local media yesterday that the President has accepted the invitation to make a state visit to Saudi Arabia as well as an invitation to speak before an international forum organized by the London-based magazine The Economist.
“Mrs. Arroyo’s scheduled visit to Saudi will coincide Eid Holidays after Ramadan expected to start on 19 – 25 of September. But we noticed her administration has been most brutal to our Muslim brothers and sisters in Mindanao with direct supervision of US military operatives in blatant violation of Philippine sovereignty and Constitution instead of pursuing peace talk with Muslim rebel groups,” Monterona added.
Monterona said after milking overseas-bound Filipino workers, her administration continue to neglect OFWs when victimized by cruel employers.
“While being laugh at her boasting that her government is a model for other labor-exporting countries in the protection of migrant workers, we challenge her to sign an agreement with the Saudi government to provide a free shelter for distressed migrant workers and to work and develop a mechanism that would legitimize so called undocumented migrant workers who have run away from their employers due to abuse and maltreatment,” Monterona added.
Migrante’s Monterona dares Mrs. Arroyo to ask the host government to develop a mechanism that would eradicate if not punish those employers that exploit migrant workers with contract substitution that result to salary reduction and requires long working hours.
“Instead of ordering her labor vendors headed by DoLE Sec. Marianito Roque to review work contracts of OFWs that is only targeted to exact fees from employers per contract reviews, why can’t she sign a contract with the host government that would protect Filipino workers from unscrupulous employers who substitute OFWs employment contract that are disadvantageous to OFWs,” Monterona averred.
“The Philippine president should stop claiming international relations as the centerpiece of her political and economic reforms when she could not even forge agreements to protect and eliminate exploitation and discrimination of Filipino migrant workers whose billions of remittances keeping the economy afloat,” Monterona added.
The OFW leader said the next most important task of Mrs. Arroyo during her scheduled visit to Saudi Arabia is to work for the legalization of all undocumented and run away OFWs mostly victims of abuses and maltreatment, not only in Saudi but entire Middle East where an estimated 2-M OFWs have been deployed.
“To our conservative estimate there are about nearly 26,000 undocumented and run away OFWs in the Middle East mostly in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon,” Monterona ended. # # #