OFW center in Saudi bombed

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WRECKED Susan Ople shows photos of the damaged structure housing an OFW center in the city of Najran in Saudi Arabia. PHOTO BY DJ DIOSINA

WRECKED Susan Ople shows photos of the damaged structure housing an OFW center in the city of Najran in Saudi Arabia. PHOTO BY DJ DIOSINA

Some 5,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Najran City, Saudi Arabia now fear for their lives after Yemeni rebels bombed a Philippine community office in the area on January 5.

The attack has prompted a number of Filipinos to seek repatriation, Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a private group handling cases of distressed OFWs, said.

Ople called on the government to stop deploying Filipino workers to Najran and immediately find a safe shelter for the thousands of OFWs in the beleaguered city, which lies near the Yemeni border. The southern city has been the site of shelling since early last year when Saudi Arabi started its air strikes against Yemeni rebels backed by Iran.

Ople said the city is rocked by dozens of bombings every day as the Saudi Army and Yemeni rebels intensify their attacks.


“Yung mga bomba daw, dati, tuwing araw lang. Ngayon, kahit gabi. Hindi nila alam kung
saan nagmumula. Nararamdaman na lang nila kasi nayayanig na lang kung saan sila natutulog (The bombings used to occur only during the day but now the attacks take place even at nights. They would wake up at nights, jarred by the impact of the bombings),” she told reporters in a press briefing.

“Up to 80 exchanges of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are experienced daily. And yet new hires, mostly household workers, keep on coming to the area without them knowing that the place of work is in the middle of a war,” Ople told reporters. She showed members of the media photos of the OFW center located in a Filipino community that was wrecked by a rocket missile on January 5.

Ople said the government should temporarily stop sending Filipino workers to Najran and to create a team that will assess the situation in the war-torn city.

Four Filipinos are awaiting repatriation. However, their employers are asking $1,500 from each worker to recoup their expenses in hiring them.

“We call on the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to work closely with recruitment agencies and [ensure]the safety of our workers,” Ople, who is running for senator in May, said.

Filipinos who wished to stay in Najran have asked the Philippine Consulate General to deploy a contingency team to assess their needs and help them in case the situation further deteriorates.

“The Philippine Consulate General, through Vice Consul Alexander Estomo, has been visiting Najran. But in and out lang sila… Because of the rising tensions, and the escalating exchange of artillery, ‘yung Filipinos there would prefer to have a permanent contingent or team looking out for them,” Ople said.

Ople was joined at the forum by recruitment agency owners John Bertiz, Jun Aguilar and Lito Soriano. Luther Calderon, leader of a non-government organization dealing with OFWs, was also present.

She also cautioned OFWs in the Middle East to be doubly careful on what they post on social media following the arrest of three Filipinos who were among the 44 suspected terrorists nabbed by Saudi authorities last month.

“It is important that our OFWs be extra mindful of growing security concerns in the region and to avoid any political issue,” Ople added.

Ready to help

Also on Friday, President Benigno Aquino 3rd gave assurances that the government will provide employment to the Filipinos who will be displaced due to the escalating tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Quoting Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Aquino said the government can take in the Filipinos who will be displaced. About 23 percent of the workers, he noted, are household workers who can be given new jobs, for example in Japan’s economic zones that have been opened up for Filipinos workers.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran were strained following Riyadh’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday.

Protesters in the Shiite-majority Iran attacked Saudi’s embassy in Tehran hours after the execution, forcing Riyadh to cut ties with Iran.

On Wednesday, Aquino met with several members of his Cabinet to discuss the growing tensions in the Middle East. He said the country’s embassies and consular offices are reviewing their respective contingency plans.

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16 Comments

  1. Hi ask ko LNG po MFA kabayan jns najran safe b jn? Kc po paalis po ako at najran po ako mppunta OK po yung place ng najran?

  2. Chairman,

    pakihanap naman saan yung community office na yan….paki bomba pag nakita mo to give credence to this fantastic story kuno ….LOL

  3. LOL…yes…bombings are happening here as frequent as can be imagined by those not in this area…to hear about this filipino community center getting bombed is quite hilarious….we are just a small community here and anything/everything of consequences that happened involving filipinos here instantly get relayed to most of us….so far we haven’t heard anything about this bombed out shalter as we are yet to hear about the existence of this imaginary community office….???

  4. Filipino in najran, is this true??? it is not been news at the Arab news and saudi gazette. As far as I remember all expatriates living near the border of Yemen and Saudi Arabia which is najran and Gizan were already evacuated due to this bombing.

    • Nope….let’s just ask Miss Ople sya na lang magbomba para mas credible yung story nya….It never happened here as there never was a Filipino community shelter around here….LOL

  5. Alfredo H Moe on

    What? Repatriation again? For Free? Are they paying taxes? Yes, they are Philippine Citizens, but they went there on their own accord. Let them pay their dues to leave. Maybe they will think twice before going there in the first place.

    • Mr alfredo MOE are you filipino? Do you understand what are you saying? Let the gov’t do what should be..your comment doesnt help..

    • OFW’s are paying membership fees under OWWA with a growing fund and the tax exemption is for salaries sent back home and they are being spent on Philippine soil which is added to the local economy. It is like you export OFW’s as the country’s product and gets the paid every month until the contract finishes either by their own or by death.

      With the growing numbers of OFW’s, I’m sure you have a relative or two and I hope they are not in a troubled spot. — God Bless.

    • Actually it’s not free as OFW are paying owwa contributions. These contributions can be used during emergency of any kind.

    • Lahat po ng OFW ay exempted sa tax. Pero may mga pamilya sila na siyang gumagastos sa pinahirapan ng bawat OFW at ang bawat pamilya nila ay nababayad ng taxes.

    • Yes, they went there in their own accord but because our country cannot offer them the same opportunity saudi can give. They did not know war will happen, no one knows. Maybe you should also know that they are paying OWWA membership fee yearly, imagine million OFWs from saudi paying thousands each yearly, with only few of them needing help from the government, there’s still a lot of funds left for corrupt government to keep. You should be upset if they ask the funds from you, i pray you’ll not experience what these people are going thru.

    • Documentary stamps taxes, Property taxes, Estate taxes, Franchise taxes, Income taxes, Percentage taxes and so on….Yes we are paying taxes dumbass! Are you? Fucking idiot!

    • You might not be familiar of OFW contributions on OWWA. One purpose of the contribution is repatriation in case of emergency. If you are not aware of OFW related procedures, it’s better not to show your ignorance and just pray for these people. They are your countrymen in need of help and their remittance keep the Philippine economy float.

  6. may I know where is the Filipino community here in najran? is it true? that it was bombed Jan 5?najran people please confirm..tanx

    • ronald dela cruz on

      i think this is a FALSE report….there is NO OFW CENTER here in najran…we heared a lot of sounds of bombs but NO OFW CENTER HIT by bombed on jan 5…PLS CORRECT YOUR NEWS….the pics shows maybe somewhere in najran but no CASUALTIES maybe in the farthest side or border side…BUT NO OFW CENTER here …….thanxs…