On account of the escalating war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Migrante International expresses alarm over the Duterte government’s failure to lay out and implement comprehensive contingency measures to secure the safety of the OFWs in Saudi Arabia.
As we have observed in the past, the Philippine government only comes to the rescue when OFWs are already caught up in fierce armed battles and lives have already been lost. We are appalled that the Philippine government is once again exhibiting the same attitude in response to the Saudi crisis.
The barrage of ballistic missiles and drone attacks in Taif, Jeddah, and allegedly in Makkah reveal that the conflict is rapidly advancing forward into Saudi Arabia’s interior. Despite the mounting strife between competing powers in the Gulf region, the DFA ‘s Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah has by far merely issued an advisory a few days ago, 20th of May.
Worse, embassy officials in Saudi Arabia spent several weeks electioneering for Duterte’s candidates instead of preoccupying themselves with the work of ensuring the welfare of OFWs.
For the sake of the almost 1 million Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia, the Duterte government needs to conduct an accurate general evaluation of the current situation and draw lessons from similar events that occured in Libya, Syria and Iraq.
We demand that President Duterte and concerned government agencies ensure that concrete actions are already available for OFWs who need immediate evacuation and assistance especially from regions and cities located near Yemen’s border or in any part of Saudi Arabia within missile range. According to the Consulate in Jeddah, in regions closest to the Yemeni border, about 15,000 Filipinos work in Jizan and 7,850 are in Najran.
Most importantly, without a solid reintegration program anchored on pro-labour policies like higher wages and end to contractualization, OFWs will continually find themselves as commodities of the government’s labour export program with the Duterte regime as the number one pimp.
Migrante International will continue to monitor the Duterte government’s actions in Saudi Arabia as we keep up raising the collective voices and concerns of OFW families who are distraught by serious threats to the safety and security of their loved ones in Saudi Arabia and in other parts of the world.