Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Last batch of Pinoys from Jeddah safely arrive in Manila
07/15/2007 09:09 AM
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Except for two Filipinos still hospitalized, the repatriation of Filipinos stranded in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia has finally been completed.

Online news site Arab News reported Sunday that Philippine consul general Pendosina Lomondot said the last batch of 75 men departed Friday aboard a Gulf Air flight.

“It’s over. I’m very thankful to the officials of Saudi Arabia for their gesture of compassion in accommodating our request for the repatriation of our stranded compatriots," Lomondot said after confirming the safe arrival in Manila of the last group.He said the Saudi government shouldered the repatriation expenses for 858 of the 860 Filipinos.

Still in Jeddah is Demetriou Gabayero, 57, who was being treated for lung cancer at the King Fahd Hospital and has not yet been allowed by his doctors to leave.Also in the same hospital is Eulides Ayub, 58, who is undergoing dialysis for a kidney ailment.A third man who failed to make it to the Philippines was Faisal Bandila, who died on June 18 at King Fahd Hospital, where he was taken when he had hypertension.

Lomondot also thanked members of the Filipino community for giving food and other amenities to the stranded when they were at the consulate and the Immigration Department’s “safehouse" while their travel papers were being processed.“The support given by these compassionate groups and individuals made the entire repatriation effort a success," he said.

On the other hand, he said the Department of Foreign Affairs spent at least $25,000 for food, amenities and transportation alone.Lomondot would not comment on reports that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Manila failed to provide the plane tickets requested by the consulate for the stranded Filipinos.

The Arab News report cited a consulate official who said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) fund was drained because of the Lebanon crisis.The OWWA’s welfare officers in Jeddah, however, worked hand in hand with the consulate staff in assisting the stranded, and reportedly provided transportation expenses for those who needed to go home to the provinces.The crisis in Jeddah began on May 27 when more than 200 stranded Filipinos, mostly victims of fixers in the Eastern Province and Riyadh, flocked to the consulate in Jeddah.

They sought help after two months of waiting for the “backdoor departure" they were promised.Lomondot allowed the stranded Filipinos to stay inside the consulate compound until the Saudi Immigration Department granted the consulate’s request to give them travel documents.While some of the overstayers were flown to the Philippines very soon, most of them had to wait at the Quorayet “safehouse" at the Jeddah Seaport for weeks while their travel documents were processed. - GMANews.TV

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