Saturday, November 1, 2008

February 13, 2008

Stranded Pinoys in Jeddah agree to legal deportation process
02/13/2008 06:29 PM

JEDDAH - The remaining run away Filipinos who have set up tents inside the Philippine consulate here have finally submitted to the legal process of repatriation after a series of negotiations with consulate officials.

Consul General Ezzedin Tago said the stranded Filipinos have agreed to fill out forms with their real names, as well as the names and addresses of their employers to pave the way for their clearance for repatriation.On Monday, the Saudi government has sent home 40 of almost 200 Filipinos stranded in Jeddah while 65 were waiting for completion of their travel documents at the immigration and deportation area.

The 70 others left behind at the consulate premises initially refused to provide the information such as their personal circumstances and the names and addresses of their employers.Upon learning that 12 of their colleagues have already agreed to go through the legal deportation process, the group decided to follow suit upon securing the assurance from consulate officials that their rights will be adequately protected.

The Filipinos earlier raised apprehension that their employers would concoct cases against them to prevent them from leaving Saudi Arabia in retaliation for absconding.Most of the stranded Filipinos 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.

Fernando Francisco, one of the leaders of the stranded Filipinos, said they went to the consul generals' office to convey the group’s decision to submit to the legal procedure."All we need is protection from our employers. Our situation is difficult and we are just depending on their (consulate officials’) assistance. Now that everything is okay, we can now relax and wait patiently," Francisco said.

Eric Jocson, another leader and a spokesperson of the group, said they are all happy and contented with the result of their talks with consulate officials. "We started filling-up the request for assistance form after the meeting. We gave already the names of our employers and their addresses," he said.

Tago said he was happy with the turn of events as he assured that the consulate will do its best to facilitate the immediate repatriation of the stranded Filipinos."We will submit their papers to the (Saudi) immigration department for verification and if they are clear we will process their travel documents." Tago said.Francisco said they apologized to Tago for their adversarial positions during the initial phase of the negotiations.

"We explained to him that we just did those things out of depression and anybody who felt helpless will do the same thing we did and we are happy that he understands our side," he said.More than a hundred stranded Filipinos, including three children, already went through the legal deportation process. - Ronaldo Concha, GMANews.TV

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