An alliance of Filipino migrants' rights group providing assistance to distress and stranded OFWs in the Middle East said today the Philippine government could have saved about P8-M if the repatriation of stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia had been done promptly.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator cited the 400 stranded who have returned to their shelter 2 weeks ago ending their 3-week camped out alongside the PH consulate building in Jeddah.
"We are more than 400 here in the rented shelter at the Al-Mina hajj terminal; PH consulate promised us of our repatriation but only 57 have been repatriated so far," said one of the leaders of the stranded OFWs during yesterday's phone conversation with Monterona.
The PH government is paying 15 Saudi riyals daily for every OFW housed at the Al-Mina hajj terminal as noted by no less than Vice President and presidential adviser on OFWs concerns Jejomar Binay on his issued statement dated April 17, 2011. He asked Malacanang for P24-M to repatriate stranded OFWs in Saudi.
"Assuming on the average there are 300 stranded housed at the rented shelter in Al-Mina hajj terminal since January to May (approximately 150 days), on a rate of 15 Saudi riyals (SR) per day for every OFW, it is estimated that the PH govt. have already spent about 675,000 SR. equivalent to P7.76-M (1:11.5 Riyal to peso current conversion)," Monterona adding 'the amount could better be used for OFWs welfare programs and free services'.
Monterona also said the stranded OFWs, temporarily housed at the Al-Mina hajj terminal, conveyed their apprehension on the snail-paced repatriation saying they 'thought we will be sent home in a week time as promised by the PH consulate'.
"The stranded OFWs were told by the consulate that by June 6, most of them, if not all, will be sent to Jeddah deportation center, but they doubt such announcement," Monterona added.
Monterona added the PH consulate must be honest in providing information to the stranded especially if it is about their repatriation. "The stranded are eager to be home and providing them wrong information will certainly won't help," the Saudi-based OFW leader added.
"The stranded decided to go back to their shelter based on the information from the consulate that their airplane tickets are under-process from Manila and about to be sent in a week time and thereby repatriation will follow as many have their travel documents ready," Monterona added.
Monterona said he has been told by the stranded that if no repatriation will takes place on June 6, they will set-up their camp anew alongside the PH consulate building in Jeddah.
Monterona calls on Consulate general and Charge de Affaires Ezzadin Tago to prompt his staff in the PH consulate in Jeddah to attend closely and fast track the repatriation of the 400 stranded OFWs, some of them with children.
"We are urging the PH post in Jeddah to fast track the repatriation of the stranded OFWs to avoid further delay. It's not only a big relief to the stranded and their worried families but it will also save huge amount of government funds renting the shelter in Al-Mina hajj terminal," Monterona ended.