MIGRANT RIGHTS advocacy group Migrante-Middle East has said 21 stranded Filipino workers in Saudi are now ready to come home after a month of campaigning for their swift and free mass repatriation.

“The 21 who are among those 130 male stranded OFWs sheltered at a Villa in Riyadh have informed us that they received calls from POLO-OWWA welfare officers and that their exit clearances have already been issued,” said M-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona.

Weeks ago, according to Monterona, the stranded male OFWs were brought to the office of the General Directorate for passport and expatriate affairs office or Jawassat for finger printing.

“Finger printing is an immigration requirements that forms part of the mandatory biometric data being implemented by the host government and it is necessary for the issuance of exit clearances, profession change, and passport information transfer,” Monterona added.

Monterona said that an official of the Philippine Overseas labor office in Riyadh had confirmed during a phone call conversation that the rest of the male stranded OFWs are “under negotiation and hopefully their exit clearances will be issued.”

Meanwhile, at least 50 out of the 100 plus female stranded OFWs at Riyadh deportation center also confirmed that they their exit visa has been released, though there are new stranded OFWs coming in for repatriation.

“We welcome this development,” Monterona said.

Pwede naman pala maayos at mapabilis ang repatriation ng mga stranded, dapat lang talagang nakatutok ang ating mga POLO-Owwa welfare officers,” he said.

Monterona said his group will continue to call on and monitor the repatriation of the stranded OFWs especially those at Bahay Kalinga, Exit 8 male shelter, and those at women deportation center in Riyadh.

Free ticket for the stranded

On the alleged report that a staff of POLO-OWWA asking an amount from the stranded for their tickets, labor attache Rustico de la Fuente confirmed to Monterona that the “Philippine government policy hasn’t change and that stranded OFWs will not shoulder the tickets.”

“For the information of all stranded OFWs due for repatriation, you do not need to produce your airfare. The Philippine government through OWWA has to provide a ticket for you,” Monterona said.

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