RP gov't to shoulder airfare of stranded OFWs in Saudi - report
05/30/2007 04:13 PM
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The stranded Filipino workers in Jeddah have been assured that the Philippine government would shoulder the cost of their plane tickets to enable them to return to Manila as soon as their exit visas are processed.Over 100 OFWs who have ran away from their abusive employers from different parts of Saudi Arabia have trooped to the consulate in Jeddah for shelter and repatriation assistance after most of them were victimized by "fixers" who promised to facilitate their "backdoor" reportation for a fee.
Consul General Pendosina Lomondot gave the assurance of the Philippine government's assistance when he met with the stranded workers on Tuesday, the Jeddah-based Arab News reported on Wednesday.
Lomondot said the consulate has already sought the assistance of concerned Saudi Arabian agencies in the processing of the exit visas for the workers.“The problem right now is to secure exit visas and the consul general has made this a top priority," said Consul Jose Jacob in a separate meeting with another group of workers at the Philippine center.
Arab News reported that the number of OFWs seeking for help at the consulate has swelled from 96 on Sunday to 132 on Tuesday as the end of the two-month amnesty the Saudi Arabia government has given to overstaying aliens draws near. The grace period will end on May 31, forcing expatriates to run to the consulate for shelter.Consulate officials are requesting for donations of food and basic needs from groups and individuals who may wish to help the victims of bad employers and “fixers." “We are calling once again on community organizations and kind-hearted individuals for help for these victims while we are working on their problems," Arab News quoted Philippine welfare officer Abdurajik Samain as having said.
There are other Filipinos at the center who have overstayed at the Kingdom after their visitor visas for the Umrah and Haj have expired.There were also Filipino women, mostly domestic helpers, at the shelter home run by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. Some of the women have their children with them.
Consulate officials on Tuesday reiterated their warning to other Filipino workers not to be swayed by talks that they could easily leave the Kingdom through the backdoor via Jeddah.He urged those in the Central region to call the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and those in the Eastern region to call the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Alkhobar.
The consulate in Jeddah covers the Western Region.The following are the contact numbers:Riyadh: Assistance to Nationals Section (01-480-1918/482-4354/480-3662), Bahay Kalinga (01-481-6448), POLO (01-483-2201/2202/2203). Jeddah: 02-6600-348, 6670-925, 6600-354, or 6696-303.Alkhobar: 03-897-1085. - GMANews.TV