Migrante salutes striking Pinoys in Riyadh
Slams “inutile” RP post
12 January 2010
A militant alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) groups today expressed solidarity with 88 OFWs who staged a hunger strike in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after calls for their repatriation were left unheeded by the Philippine post in the Middle Eastern city.
The 88 OFWs were victims of contract substitution and unjust labor practices of construction firm Annasban Group. They stopped working on October 12 last year after they complained of salary reduction, illegal salary deduction and delayed payment of salary.
November 3 last year, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement that the Philippine Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh have been working for the workers’ repatriation “at the soonest possible time.” The promised repatriation, however, didn’t happen.
“Migrante International salutes the Riyadh 88 for militantly standing up to assert their rights. OFWs the world over join them in their fight for justice,” stated Garry Martinez, Chairperson of Migrante International.
“We vehemently condemn the Philippine government, particularly our post in Riyadh, for their gross neglect and indifference to their plight. We strongly urge them to act with dispatch and work for the immediate repatriation and remuneration of the 88 hunger strikers.” Martinez said.
The Migrante leader likewise called for the investigation and recall of RP officials in Riyadh KSA for their apparent “inutility and incompetence.”
“When OFWs in distress go to the extent of starving themselves just to get the attention of Philippine government officials, there really is something wrong. Such is the case in Riyadh. What we have there are heartless, inutile and incompetent officials who do not deserve their posts,” Martinez stressed.
In December of 2003, Martinez said, 16 stranded OFWs also staged a hunger strike inside the premises of the Philippine embassy in Riyadh. Days after, the striking workers were arrested and detained by the Saudi police upon the orders of Philippine embassy officials led by then Ambassador Bahnarim Guinomla.
To protest the arrest of the striking workers in Riyadh and to renew their call for the OFWs’ repatriation, Migrante organized a camp out of the relatives and family members of the 16 OFWs outside the office of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Pasay City. The peaceful camp out, Martinez said, was brutally dispersed by the Pasay police upon orders of then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo. Four Migrante leaders, including its Secretary General Maita Santiago, were arrested during the dispersal.###
Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09393914418
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994