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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense' hit

An alliance of Filipino migrants group in the Middle East today scores the
Government's declaration on voluntary repatriation at OFWs on expense saying
this is a disservice to the sector that is helping the economy afloat
through their billions of remittances and fees and exactions imposed by the

"Voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense is but a disservice to OFWs; it
is state responsibility to secure the well being and safety of our Filipino
workers abroad especially under adverse situation like wars and disasters or
natural calamities and any burden should not be passed on them," said John
Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

The Department of Labor and Employment announced, citing the assessment
issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that raised the alert
status to level 2 (restriction of movement) from alert level 1 (heightened
alertness), that OFWs could be repatriated if they want to avail voluntary
repatriation at their own expense.

The DFA announced that it will be sending a team to Bahrain to assess the
peace and order situation and continuously study the viability of its
contingency measures in evacuating OFWs in case the situation in Bahrain

Monterona said there were OFWs in Bahrain who called him yesterday asking
for assistance as they are worried on their situation as they are relatively
near Pearl Round-about where the security forces tried to disperse the

"One OFW called and informed me that yesterday the van driven by their
Indian driver was stopped by anti-government protesters and attempted to hit
them, but they were eventually allowed to pass after pleading," Monterona
said, quoting the OFW who requested not to be named.

"He also cited the 40 OFWs working for Al Areen palace and spa at Sanaad,
Bahrain and the 10 OFW-nurses working for Orthocare, asking for assistance
as well as they manifested their intent to be repatriated."

"I explained to them yesterday that the PH govt. is still mulling to
announced voluntary repatriation, but this would be at their own expense,"
said Monterona.

The OFWs countered: "We don't have money that's why we are asking
for assistance to be repatriated."

Monterona said these OFWs are active members of OWWA, thus in case they
would like to be repatriated, the government must provide their airfare.

"We are certain there is 100-M repatriation fund in OWWA, why not used t=
His to provide airplane tickets for those who wanted to be home because
worried of their safety," Monterona suggested.

Monterona calls on OWWA administrator Carmelita Dimzon to account
the OWWA funds and the 100-M OWWA repatriation fund and furnish the
information to OFWs stakeholders who are contributing US$25 yearly.

"These are OFWs money, thus it should be spent on OFWs welfare programs and
services," Monterona said.

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