40 stranded Pinoys in Jeddah sent to RP, 65 others awaiting deportation
02/13/2008 01:31 AM
JEDDAH - The Saudi Arabian government has deported 40 of more than 100 Filipinos stranded here while 65 others are awaiting processing of their exit documents at the immigration and deportation area.
There are at least 70 others left behind at the Philippine consulate because they refuse to provide their real names, their employers and other personal data for fear of retaliation from their employers.
The stranded OFWs ran away from their employers with complaints of non-payment or reduced salaries, unpaid overtime work, physical and verbal harm, contract substitutions and actual threats of sexual abuse from their employers.
The group of 40 Filipinos sent back to Manila included a seven-month-old boy and a two-year-old girl. Seventeen women picked up last week from the Al-Khandara bridge were also included.Zenaida Concepcion, one of those who stayed under the bridge for weeks, sounded cheerful when she telephoned before taking her flight to Manila on Monday.
She said that they are all very happy and very excited but worried about their male colleagues who are still inside the consulate awaiting their chances of getting deported."Mananawagan kami pagdating namin sa Pilipinas para mapauwi na rin sila," Concepcion assured.On Tuesday, 41 distressed woman staying at the welfare center run by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration inside the Philippine consulate compound were taken to the deportation area.Assistant Labor Attaches Adam Mussa and Wesley Gacutan, welfare officer Romeo Pablo and case officers Ali Aguam and Abdulbasir Sua assisted the OFWs at 9 a.m.
Pablo said all OFWs brought to the deportation area were domestic helpers who ran away from their employers due to unpaid salaries, sexual harassment and physical abuse but have decided not to pursue the cases against their employers to be able to go home. A few of the distressed woman with pending cases were left behind in the welfare center.
Consul General Ezzedin Tago said the transfer of the stranded OFWs who submitted themselves to the legal process in the deportation area started last Sunday. He said he was hoping that others would also submit themselves to the legal process.
The remaining OFWs who have set up camps at the consulate lighted candles, placed a donation box on a makeshift stage and prayed for the soul of the mother of one of the stranded Filipinos who died Monday morning.
They wore black head bands to show their sympathy for the mother of Joel Agana who died of hypertension.The Filipinos also shaved their heads as a sign of protest. They also wore shirts with a printed message, "end us home now." "Going home is not easy. There are lots of procedures that we have to follow. Our sponsors are the only one who can send us home legally," one of the stranded Filipinos said. - Ronaldo Concha, GMANews.TV