“If the Aquino government continues to sit pretty while our OFWs suffer, they will be repatriating dead bodies instead. Our OFWs are dying yet the Aquino government is still business-as-usual.”
This was the statement Migrante Partylist following reports that another stranded OFW had died of ulcer since the Jeddah Tent City campout began. This time, the OFW died right inside the PH Consulate in Jeddah.
Migrante-KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) confirmed the death of Danilo Grefadilyo, a native of Sorsogon, in his 60s, and an OFW who has been seeking repatriation from the PH government since last year. Grefadilyo was the second OFW who died of sickness since the Tent City broke out.
The first one was Eliseo Araneta from Calamba, Laguna. Araneta had been working as an undocumented worker in Jeddah for eight years before he went to the Consulate to seek repatriation due to his kidney ailment.
On March 2013, Araneta was operated on, with the help of his co-OFWs. Since the campout broke out, his co-OFWs were not able to visit him because of the Saudi crackdowns. He died shortly after. He was 60 years old.
Araneta’s family are still awaiting the repatriation of his remains.
On-site medical assistance needed
According to Martinez, more and more OFWs are being afflicted with illnesses at the Jeddah Tent City. “The terrible heat, combined with lack of food, accommodations and medical assistance from the PH government is taking its toll on the stranded OFWs, especially the children. The mosquitos are also a big problem, as well as the lack of toilet and sanitation facilities.”
Martinez said that the OFWs are very grateful for all the help coming from Migrante and other Filipino communities in Jeddah. “But these, of course, are not enough. What they need are urgent on-site help and medical assistance. All embassy and consulate officials in Jeddah have to do is to go out of their air-conditioned offices and assist our OFWs.”
He said that they have also received word that DFA-OUMWA Usec. Hesus Yabes recently went to the Tent City to convince the OFWs to leave the campout site and separately and individually transfer to scattered locations.
“We believe that this is just a tactic to diffuse the situation to make it appear as if the Tent City campers are not gaining in number. If the PH government is sincere in helping, they should provide on-site assistance or transfer the OFWs collectively to a common shelter that can accommodate their growing number,” Martinez said.
Unpaid lease for temporary shelter
However, Martinez said, it is unfortunate that the Aquino administration is yet to settle its unpaid lease on a Saudi terminal that was formerly used as a temporary shelter for three years by the PH Consulate in Jeddah.
Martinez called on the Aquino government to immediately settle the unpaid lease rental on the Al Mina Hajj Terminal. The unpaid lease is reported to have reached 1.4 million Saudi riyals, roughly equivalent to Php15 million.
The stranded OFWs in Jeddah have already reached an estimated 3,000 as of this posting. Since the Jeddah Tent City campout started, not one OFW has been repatriated by the Aquino government.
Solidarity campout of families
On April 29 to May 1, families of the stranded OFWs are gearing to launch their own “solidarity campout” to demand “free, quick and mass repatriation” of their loved ones, as well as immediate relief and urgent assistance for the OFWs while they await repatriation.
“We call on all families and relatives of stranded OFWs in Saudi to join us,” Martinez said. ###