Filipino migrants rights group, MIGRANTE, which is at the forefront of providing assistance to the thousands of stranded Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia, most of them have camped out beside the PH Consulate building in Jeddah since April 8, 2013, today said it will reiterate to the Aquino govt. through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) the repatriation of stranded women OFWs and their children including those old and sick OFWs being the top priority.

“The repatriation of stranded women OFWs and their children and those who are old and sick, for humanitarian considerations, were among those commitments we’ve got from the DFA during our April 30 dialog. We have asked the DFA to prioritize their repatriation on or before May 15,” said MIGRANTE party-list vice chairperson John Leonard Monterona, also regional coordinator of Migrante-Middle East (M-ME).

Monterona said, citing reports from the leaders of the stranded, yesterday officials of the PH consulate and representative from Saudi General Directorate for Passport Control, locally known as Jawasat, and leaders of the stranded OFWs held a meeting.

“They arrived at a consensus that the 200 plus stranded women OFWs and their children, old and sick will be repatriated first, and that they will be relocated to the shelter facilities offered by the PH consulate with continuous supply of food, water, sanitation, and other necessities,” Monterona added.

Monterona, however, added that the PH consulate never give even a tentative date when they will be repatriated. “Thus, we will insist that the stranded women and children, those old and sick be repatriated on or before May 15.”

The leaders of the stranded were also told that there are 5,000 air tickets being readied by the PH consulate. But only 50 will be allotted to the stranded women OFWs with children.

“We will seek clarification on this from DFA top officials as we have counted more than 50 women with children,”Monterona added.

300 stranded OFWs in Riyadh readying a camp-in

Meanwhile, around three hundred (300) stranded Filipino workers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will stage a camp-in protest either inside the PH embassy building or at the POLO-OWWA compound in Riyadh, according to Monterona.

“I was informed by the leaders of the stranded OFWs in Riyadh that they will stage a camp-in peaceful and silent protest today to demand from the PH officials in Riyadh to attend on their repatriation, too,” Monterona added.

Monterona added that initial lists of the stranded numbering to around 200 were submitted to DFA undersecretary for Administration Rafael Seguis on May 1.

“We have submitted the list as per our commitment by way of helping the PH embassy in regards to documentation or listing the names of those who have sought assistance from us,” Monterona, adding that they will submit additional lists in the coming days as the number of stranded OFWs seeking assistance for repatriation is surging.

Monterona revealed that there are also 30 stranded OFWs in Al-Khobar who have sought assistance for repatriation from Migrante officers in the Eastern Region. “We are arranging the list of their names and will forward a copy to the PH embassy and DFA,” he added.

“The DFA secretary Del Rosario assured us that his department is doing ‘maximum efforts’ to solve this crisis (referring to the ballooning number of stranded OFWs seeking repatriation). He added that his department has enough funds to shoulder the repatriation cost and airfares of the stranded OFWs,” Monterona citing his notes during the April 30 dialog with DFA officials and kin of stranded OFWs.

“All those who wanted to be home will be repatriated -this is the assurance given to us by Sec. Del Rosario. We expect that this assurance will be realized soonest. Crucial to its realization is the vigilance and collective mass action of the stranded Filipino workers and their families in the Philippines. We will continue to be so,” Monterona concluded. (PR)