AT least 600 Filipino women and children are expected to be repatriated from Saudi Arabia in the next few days amid the strict implementation of the Saudization policy of the Kingdom.
Vice President Jejomar Binay said on Wednesday that he was informed by Consul General Uriel Garibay of the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah that a total of 455 Filipino women and 189 children were brought to the Al Shumaisy deportation center in Jeddah for processing of their exit from Saudi Arabia.
“Contrary to news reports being published and circulated in Saudi Arabia, these overseas Filipino workers [OFWs] and their children were not arrested but willingly allowed themselves to be transported to the new deportation facilities at Al Shumaisy,” Binay clarified.
The deportation center at Al Shumaisy is the only place in Jeddah where the OFWs can be processed for repatriation.
“They will have to remain in the facilities until they are ready to fly home. We are praying for the safe return of our OFWs and their children at the soonest possible time,” he added.
The Vice President said the Consulate’s decision to bring the OFWs to Al Shumaisy came right after it was known that Saudi authorities in charge of the deportation center had agreed to admit illegal OFWs.
“The Consulate, in coordination with the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and immigration authorities, organized the transport including providing the buses for the travel to the facilities,” Binay said.
Binay also said the accommodations in the Al Shumaisy center are “far better” than the tents some illegal workers were staying in while waiting to be repatriated.
“The center boasts of modern processing areas, and those staying there are provided with food, including milk for children. There is also a well-equipped infirmary for the sick,” he said.
The Vice President reiterated his appeal to Filipinos in the Kingdom to remain calm, saying the Philippine government is ready to provide them appropriate assistance.
Ritchie A. Horario