Seventy-two years old Mateo Amaro from Caloocan city has been working in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the past 20 years. Today his only wish is to go back to the Philippines and be reunited with his family considering also that his health is deteriorating. The problem however is that Amaro is an undocumented worker abroad, and just like any other undocumented OFWs he is ‘deprived’ to fly home– unless the government will do something for him.
To initially fix the situation, migrants’ rights groups like Migrante-Middle East and its affiliate in Jeddah contributed money to secure an air ticket for Amaro back to the country. Yet the bigger problem remains: Amaro could not be repatriated pending the issuance of exit clearance from his sponsor-employer.
Thus Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona has led the call for the intervention of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) so Amaro’s condition can be attended immediately.
“OFW Amaro is suffering from diabetes and tuberculosis, and no doubt his health is deteriorating as shown on his latest photo sent to us by our colleagues in Jeddah,” Monterona added.
The group however alleged that Philippine Labor attaché Vicente Cabe and a certain Qassim, OWWA welfare officer in Jeddah, ‘both simply ignore and don’t care’ Amaro’s condition and request despite repeated follow up by Migrante officers.
“If only our Migrante officers in Jeddah are in a position and authority to talk and negotiate with OFW Amaro’s employer for the issuance of his exit clearance, then they’re more than willing to do so,” Monterona averred.
Slamming the said Philippine labor and welfare officials ‘for delaying the repatriation and for not providing assistance to Amaro’, the group recalled that DoLE has issued a tall order to its new breed of labor officials abroad to be ready to serve OFWs 24/7.
“We call on DoLE Sec. Baldoz and OWWA Admin Dimzon to recall and replace DoLE Labor Attache Vicente Cabe and OWWA Welfare Officer Qassim, as both were negligent on their respective duties and have been a subject of numerous complaints from distress OFWs,” added Monterona in a statement to Manila Channel.