Media Release

August 29 2021

A group of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Middle East condemned the Philippine government for holding a forum in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on Friday, saying the forum used the people’s money for election purposes, and attacks legitimate organizations of Filipino migrants.

Migrante-Middle East criticized the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the Philippine embassy in Riyadh in KSA, the Philippine military attache in Riyadh, and the so-called Tapang at Malasakit Alliance for the Philippines chapter in the KSA for organizing the forum.

It singled out Allan Hencel U. Campos, second secretary based in the Philippine embassy in Riyadh, and Glenn S. Vales, Philippine military attache in Riyadh, for organizing the forum that was held at the Al Mana General Hospital in the Khobar region of the KSA.

“Ang kakapal ng mukha! We OFWs are facing so many problems amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. There are thousands upon thousands of stranded OFWs who need repatriation and more who need financial assistance. And the government is using people’s money to campaign for Sara Duterte and attack legitimate migrant organizations. This is really revolting,” said Gerry de Guzman, Migrante-Middle East coordinator.

The forum, which was attended by only 20 staff of the hospital, featured Jeffrey “Eric” Celiz, a former activist who has been red-tagging progressive organizations including Migrante International, who sent a recorded video to the activity.

“We are glad that our fellow OFWs showed their disgust for the event and its organizers by not attending. The nerve of these agencies to organize such a forum in a place where tax-paying OFWs are working hard! OFWs in the Middle East have become increasingly aware of the Duterte government’s failure to effectively address the pandemic at home and respond to OFWs’ needs,” de Guzman said.

De Guzman also criticized the Duterte government for providing a P30.46-billion budget to the NTF-ELCAC for election year 2022 — to the detriment of repatriation services for OFWs and health services for all Filipinos given the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The NTF-ELCAC has always been a machinery for attacking voices that are independent and critical of the Duterte government. Now that the elections are drawing near, it is exposing the real motive for its creation: defending Duterte’s hold on power. Funds allocated to this repulsive government agency will only go to repression and Duterte’s political campaign,” de Guzman added.

“OFWs urgently need repatriation services, Filipinos urgently need greater health services, and both need immediate financial assistance. Duterte’s priorities are different, and this again shows that Duterte must go. OFWs and all Filipinos should reject the Dutertes and their minions in the coming elections,” he stated.###