Sen. Cynthia Villar has assured immediate assistance to undocumented Filipino workers now facing arrest and detention due to the renewed Saudi Arabian government’s crackdown on illegal migrants.
Villar said she met four distressed OFWs, including a 71-year-old illegally staying worker, upon their arrival in the country recently from Saudi Arabia.
She said the Villar Foundation paid for the plane tickets of the OFWs, who came from Jeddah and Riyadh, adding that it was part of her advocacy and personal commitment.
“No PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) is involved here; this is my own modest, personal initiative in honor of our modern-day heroes,” she stressed in a statement.
Villar appealed to the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah to fast track the repatriation of OFW Diego Mag-atas, who needed a medical certificate.
She said she has already provided a plane ticket for Mag-atas but the airport authorities required a medical certificate to show that he is indeed fit to travel, considering his weakened spinal column.
The lady senator stressed that the Philippine embassy and the Philippine Consulate-General should assign a team at the Saudi airport to facilitate the departure of OFWs with exit visas and tickets not issued by the government.
“I urge our diplomatic posts in Saudi Arabia to assign OFW assistance teams at the international airport in Saudi Arabia to guide and assist departing Filipino workers regardless of where they got their tickets from,” she said.
“Some of our workers think that they can leave because all their papers are in order only to encounter problems at the airport itself, just like Mr. Mag-atas,” she added.
Villar explained that the “harrowing ordeals” of these OFWs should serve as a reminder for the government to focus on job creation the same way the Saudi government is doing its best to provide jobs for their nationals.
“We need to help thousands of our repatriated OFWs to get back to their feet and move forward, hopefully without going back to the Middle East to work,” she said. PNA