3 days after DFA promised, still no OFW repatriated from Tent City

Migrante Partylist today said that it will not forget the promises made by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) during the solidarity campout staged by families of stranded OFWs at the Jeddah Tent City.

“It has been three days since the dialogue. We will hold them accountable for their word. There were many witnesses in the dialogue, including families of OFWs and members of the media,” said Bragas-Regalado.

Bragas-Regalado slammed the DFA for issuing premature reports to the media with regard the supposed arrival of some 40 OFWs from Jeddah. “Obviously, the DFA made the announcement in its attempt to save face after the successful campout. When asked about the status of the supposed repatriation of the 40 OFWs, the DFA had no idea if they came from the Tent City or when they are due to arrive.”

Migrante Partylist 2nd nominee and Migrante International Garry Martinez and Migrante Middle East Coordinator John Leonard Monterona, along with some relatives of stranded OFWs, held a dialogue with the DFA last April 30. The dialogue was a result of negotiations with the DFA following the families’ setting up of their solidarity campout outside the DFA gates last April 29 to May 1.

“No less than DFA Sec. Albert del Rosario promised to direct senior officials to attend to the cases of the OFWs whose families joined in the dialogue. But as far as the demand for free, immediate and mass repatriation is concerned, no commitment was made by the DFA,” Bragas-Regalado said.

Included in those who attended the dialogue were relatives of OFWs Marian Guinto, victim of attempted rape; Mineheart Ramos, victim of labor violations; and, Eliseo Araneta, an OFW who died of sickness last April while awaiting repatriation. “Kahit man lang itong mga kasong ito hanggang ngayon wala pa ring tugon ang gobyernong Aquino,” she said.

In the dialogue, the DFA promised to lobby for the extension of the grace period given to undocumented OFWs by the Saudi government before the resumption of the crackdowns. The DFA also said that it will work for the implementation of a ‘general amnesty’ for all undocumented OFWs in Saudi and a waiver of penalties and the ‘No Objection Certificate’ required by the Saudi government. It also promised to investigate reports by OFWs that the PH Consulate in Jeddah is exacting illegal fees in exchange for their repatriation.

“It’s been three days and still the Aquino government cannot give a clear and concrete report. We have yet to see the first batch of OFWs being repatriated en masse. Mahiya naman ang gobyerno sa mga OFW at pamilyang pinangakuan nila,” said Bragas-Regalado.

She also added that because of the campout by OFWs in Jeddah and the solidarity campout of their families here, more stranded OFWs are geared to stage similar actions in Riyadh, Dammam, Al-Khobar and Jordan.

Tomorrow, May 4, stranded OFWs in Jeddah will hold a “camp-in protest” inside the PH Embassy in Riyadh. ###