22 September 2009
Stranded OFWs in Saudi deportation center appeal for food, medicines, and immediate repatriation;
OFW group presses visiting Gloria to bring them all home
An alliance of overseas Filipino workers organizations in the Middle East today said the remaining more than a 100 OFWs inside the Hajj Airport deportation center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is loosing hope as their appeal for supply of food, medicines, and their immediate repatraition just fall short to the deaf ears of visiting Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“The 31 stranded OFWs at cell no.1 of the Hajj Airport deportation center keep on calling and sending us short messages praying that they will be attended and be given regular supply of food, medicines, and be repatraited home especailly when they have heared the news that Mrs. Arroyo arrived in Jeddah yesterday,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.
Monterona said he regularly received an SMS from certain Ryan who have manifested from his one SMS sent to him saying “nagsurender kami pra maka-uwi sa Pinas, bakit kami ikukulong ng matagal? Hindi kmi pumatay o nagnakaw? Yan ang tanong namin? Hindi kami nag-murder na ikukulong. (We surendered so that we be sent back in the Philippines, why we are being held for so long? We never killed or stolen? That’s our question? We never murdered someone to be put in jail.)
“Yesterday, another stranded OFW who introduced himself as Roland manifested that they need foods, medicines, and appeal that they be repatriated soonest. He and his fellow stranded in cell no.1 manifested that they never received any assitance from the Philippine Consulate General office in Jeddah,” Monterona added.
Monterona said one of the objectives of Mrs. Arroyo’s visit to Saudi is to work for the “protection of OFWs” in Saudi Arabia, but she never mentioned it during her speech in front of a “hakot” crowd giving her applause everytime she mentioned her “accomplishments” for OFWs and their families.
“Their is nothing new to what she has been said during her supposed meeting with the Filipino Community in MoveNPick Hotel in Al Khobar the other day. There is no dialogue held and practically she evades to answer legitimate demands and concerns of our fellow OFWs,” Monterona added.
Monterona said he and other Migrante officers attempted to attend on the scheduled meeting of Mrs. Arroyo with the Filipino Community, but they were stop to enter at the entrance of the Hotel’s function roon where she delivered her well rehearsed, uninteresting, non-sense speech because according to an Embassy official they were not invited despite recognition from the Embassy itself that Migrante is a legitimate OFW organization in Saudi Arabia.
“Even the issue of stopping the “Embassy on Wheels” program allegedly due to lack of funds is just pure poor gimmick where Mrs. Arroyo mentioned on her speech that it will continue anyway because she will put additional funds for its continued operation but in fact the “Embassy on Wheels” program’s budget is already included in the yearly budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA),” Monterona averred.
Monterona further said that Mrs. Arroyo is also trying to impress the Saudi government so that it could ask funds for her “peace initiative” in Mindanao.
“But with the continued militarization in Mindanao, even during Eid El Ftir, that is causing havoc to the lives of our Muslim brothers and sisters, we doubt if she could get the support or funds for her bogus peace initiative in Mindanao; after all Mrs. Arroyo is not interested in establishing a peaceful country as her militarist-minded government peace negotiators are sabotaging to derail the peace negotions with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and with the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Monterona opined.
Monterona said Muslim OFWs in Saudi Arabia could not accept and are dismayed on Arroyo government’s continued and intense militarization in Mindanao where OFWs families are greatly affected, homes and jobs devastated, and could not live a normal life, thus forcing them to accept jobs abroad.
“In fact, there are Muslim brothers and sisters inside the Jedahh deportation center now wishing to be back home only to be re-united with their displaced loved ones due to continued militarization in their own land,” Monterona added.
“We reiterate our demands to the Arroyo government to provide regular supply of food, medicines, and work for the immediate repatration of the remaining stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia, especially those in jail and the 26 OFWs in death row,” Monterona added.
Monterona ended saying “Mrs. Arroyo is cleverly grabbing the credit of repatriating the 120 stranded OFWs from the Saudi government which is actually has a yearly program of sending thousands stranded migrants workers including OFWs to be back home as part of the Saudi government goodwill gesture right after the Holy Month of Ramadan.”
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John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012