Sunday, November 23, 2008

September 20, 2008

OFW can’t locate Saudi sponsor, seeks help in returning home
09/20/2008 02:35 PM

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia - After a year of fruitless search for his Saudi sponsor, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) has decided to call it quits and now wants to go home.Crispulo Perez, a 58-year-old worker from Nueva Ecija, has asked the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to send him back to the Philippines, saying he is already tired of living the life of a TNT, or tago-ng-tago.

He also said his ordeal should serve as a lesson to other OFWs to be selective in looking for sponsors."Magsilbi sanang-aral sa mga kababayan ko itong nangyari sa akin (I hope my experience will serve as a lesson to my fellow Filipinos)," he said.

"Sa aking mga kababayan na nagnanais makapunta sa Saudi Arabia sa pamamagitan nang pagbili nang visa ay mag-isip isip muna nang maraming beses para hindi nila sapitin ang aking nararanasan ngayon, (To my fellow Filipinos who wish to go to Saudi Arabia by buying a visa, I advise you to think it over many times so that you wouldn't experience what I am experiencing now)," said Perez.

Perez previously worked in a construction company from 2000 to 2003 in Taif, a highland city near Jeddah in western Saudi Arabia.In 2005, he bought a visa from an Arab sponsor for 7,000 riyals or about $1,870, a transaction which was facilitated by another Filipino.

He said he was constrained to buy a visa because it would be difficult for him to apply again with a Saudi company because of his age.Philippine Consulate officials and OFW advocates in Saudi Arabia said Perez's ordeal should serve as a reminder to others not to buy a visa, which is prohibited in the Kingdom.Despite the prohibition, tens of thousands of workers of different nationalities are in Saudi Arabia on visas bought from enterprising Saudi nationals.

Perez said his problem was that his iqama or residence permit expired, precisely because he could not have it renewed as his visa has expired. able to work. His suffering allegedly began only after his sponsor disappeared and his residence permit expired.

"Hinanap ko na kung saan saan ang sponsor ko pero hindi ko na makita, pati telepono nya ay walang sumasagot, yung Pilipino na tumulong din sa akin noon ay wala na rin sa Saudi (I looked for the whereabouts of my sponsor but I couldn't find him, he's also not answering his phone, even the Filipino who helped me was not in Saudi anymore)," Perez told GMANews.TV.

Welfare officer Romeo Pablo of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Jeddah said his office had also tried to locate Perez’s sponsor to no avail.Perez appealed to the government for help in repatriating him as soon as possible.

He said he is currently living with friends as he is no longer able to work without an iqama. "Gusto ko nang umuwi habang malakas pa ako para makapiling ko ang pamilya ko (I want to go home while I'm still strong and reunite with my family," said Perez.

Pablo said the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and OWWA has promised assistance to Perez, even as he noted that it may take some time to repatriate the distressed OFW as the host government has just implemented stricter rules.Before the Saudi government would allow Perez to leave, he would be made to pay penalties for living in the country on an expired iqama. - Ronaldo Concha and Kimberly Jane Tan, GMANews.TV

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