MANILA, Philippines-At least 15 stranded overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia have arrived home on Saturday, said migrant rights group Migrante.
The 15, all male, were among the around 200 trapped OFWs who have encamped inside the Philippine embassy compound in Riyadh since May 4.
“This is an initial victory of the stranded OFWs for taking up decisive collective action such as staging an encampment inside the Philippine embassy compound to press the Aquino government through embassy and labor officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, though they have been requesting assistance for their repatriation since last year,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante vice chairperson and regional coordinator in the Middle East.
“Again and again, we have proven that decisive collective mass action by the OFWs themselves is the best antidote to government inaction and dilly-dallying in providing assistance to distressed, stranded, and abused OFWs.”
“Ideally, it should not always be the case if only Embassy and labor officials abroad are doing their duty par excellence meeting the demands of their jobs as public servant,” added Monterona.
Monterona said they are expecting that more stranded OFWs in Riyadh and Jeddah will be repatriated in the coming days this after another batch of stranded OFWs have been sent to Saudi deportation centers in Jeddah for verification of their immigration status.
“ We are also expecting 17 stranded OFWs in Riyadh to be home soon, however we don’t have their flight details yet.”
The group also expressed appreciation to the Filipino communities, other OFW groups and individuals who continue sending donations and moral support to the stranded OFWs at ‘Tent City’ in Jeddah and inside the Philippine embassy compound in Riyadh.
Monterona added their group will continue soliciting donations such as food, water, medicines, and sanitation for those who are still in the camps.
Our ‘free, swift, mass repatriation’ campaign will continue until the last batch of stranded OFWs will be sent home,” Monterona said, adding another 115 stranded women OFWs in Amman, Jordan are now also seeking government support for immediate repatriation considering their dismal condition abroad.