PH gov’t lying through its teeth about number of still stranded OFWs in Tent City – Migrante 16 days before July 3 deadline, thousands still un-repatriated

Global alliance of Filipino migrants Migrante International today belied claims by the Philippine government that only over a hundred stranded OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) remain in Saudi as the deadline for the resumption of crackdowns nears on July 3.

“They are lying through their teeth. They are making it appear as if the number of stranded OFWs have dwindled significantly to make it appear that they have been doing their job when they have not,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recently reported that “from about a thousand two months ago, less than 150 Filipinos remain camped outside the PH Embassy and a PH consular office in Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia”. The DFA also reported that it had already repatriated some 414 individuals since June 10.

Martinez said that the recent PH government data is deliberately deceiving. He cited most recent data from Arab news reports and from Migrante chapters in Riyadh and Jeddah who perform regular head counts to monitor and keep track of the conditions and repatriation of the stranded OFWs.

According to Migrante-Saudi Arabia, at least 1,400 Filipinos are still remaining at the Jeddah Tent City, excluding thousands more waiting to be repatriated inside and outside the Consulate shelter. In Riyadh, at least 2,000 are still outside the PH embassy undergoing the processing of their travel documents.

As of June 15, 1:13pm KSA time, Arab News also reported that so far only 10 percent of undocumented migrants have been cleared to leave, among them at least 4,500 Filipinos. It reported that the “PH Consulate issued over 4,500 travel documents and approximately 2,000 underwent fingerprinting procedures…but none of them has received exit clearances so far.” (Please see attached latest table from Arab News)

“These are the authentic data of the exact number of OFWs still stranded in Saudi. By attempting to cover up their exact numbers, the PH government is exposed in trying to escape accountability should all hell break loose on July 3. Pinapaliit ang bilang para palabasin nilang paubos na, napauwi na nila ang lahat. At kapag sumapit ang July 3, sisisihin nila ang mga OFW at sasabihing hindi nag-ayos ng mga papeles,” Martinez said.

He said that the repatriation process still remains “painstakingly slow” that stranded OFWs inside the PH embassy are “being forced to shoulder their own air fares just to expedite their repatriation.”

“The Philippine government clearly understands the danger and repercussions if it fails to repatriate thousands of OFWs from Saudi before July 3. They know what the nightmare that it will amount to. This is why they are trying to cover up the exact data. Only 16 days remain before the July 3 deadline. The PH government’s lies will only further jeopardize the lives and welfare of stranded OFWs in Saudi,” Martinez said.

Martinez said that they families of stranded OFWs and some returned OFWs from Saudi are planning series of protests in the following days, before the July 3 deadline.  ###

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