IF only because the OFWs and other overseas Filipinos were the ones who first made the Duterte-for-President calls believable, the President-elect must not ignore any of their reasonable appeals. Mayor Rody Duterte won the overseas vote. Their families in the Philippines were among those who raised the Duterte banner.
OFWs would like the coming Duterte administration “to create a special task force for the repatriation of undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia.”
These OFWs in KSA are urging the future Duterte regime “to work for the repatriation of thousands of irregular OFWs in Saudi Arabia,” said Saudi-based Filipino community leader, John Leonard Monterona, convenor of the United OFW Worldwide (U-OFW) and adviser to a group called OFW Undocumented for Legalization through Amnesty (OFWULA). Monterona used to be the Migrante International coordinator in the Middle East.
He said in a gathering in Riyadh on Friday, May 20, about 150 undocumented OFWs conveyed their appeal to the incoming administration of Duterte to prioritize their repatriation.
Frederick Cornejo, chairperson of Riyadh-based OFWULA group, said at the gathering, “We reiterate our appeal to presumptive President-elect Mayor Rody Duterte to help us [so]that upon his assumption in office, [he will]issue a directive to all concerned PH government agencies to work on our immediate and free mass repatriation.” Cornejo said the irregular OFWs make up a substantial number, which a conservative estimate puts at 800 in Riyadh alone, 28 of whom are mother-and-child pairs.
Monterona said that aside from helping the undocumented or “TNT” OFWs in Riyadh, people of his group are also providing assistance, as well as monitoring the situation of distressed and stranded OFWs staying at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC), both at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah.
Monterona said his group has monitored the distressed, stranded, and undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia and have estimated their numbers as follows:
• 800 ‘TNT’ OFWs in Riyadh living in their own rented houses
• 80 distressed and stranded male OFWs with existing labor issues with their employer at the male shelter in Exit 8 villa in Riyadh
• 150 female, distressed and stranded, eight with children at the Bahay Kalinga (BK) in Riyadh,
• At least 40 runaway female household service workers are currently enrolled at the Saudi Social Welfare agency (SWA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
• At least 50 at the FWRC in the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah
• At least 3,000 ‘TNT’ OFWs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
• 100 inside the Sumeisy Deportation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Monterona suggested that a special task force for the repatriation of undocumented OFWs should be created and placed under the guidance and supervision of the DFA secretary directly reporting to the president.
“We are calling on former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) head Atty. Perfecto Yasay, Jr. as Duterte’s incoming DFA secretary to look into the deplorable plight of the hundreds of undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia and work for their repatriation.
Previous administrations and the Aquino government, according to Monterona, have “neglected the thousands of irregular or TNT OFWs in Saudi Arabia, who, despite their deplorable plight, continue to send remittances, thus directly and indirectly helping the PH economy.”