OFW with colon cancer gets no support from PH embassy in Jeddah

Migrante International today demanded urgent medical attention and repatriation assistance for Fortunato Prieto, a 61-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Prieto has been diagnosed with colon cancer. He has sought the assistance of the Migrante chapter in Jeddah after he failed to get help from the PH embassy for his request for urgent medical assistance and immediate repatriation.

Prieto has worked in Saudi Arabia for 23 years as a sewer. When his former employer died, he became undocumented and took on freelance jobs to survive. When he found out about his illness, he immedately filed for repatriation at the PH Embassy last February 13, 2014. As of this posting, however, his application is still under processing for an exit visa.

He also told Migrante that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Jeddah has merely advised him to secure funds for his airfare for him to be able to go home. Because of his illness, Prieto does not have any income or savings left. His medical bills and medication are presently being shouldered by concerned members of the Filipino community in Jeddah.

“The case of Tatay Fortunato is cause for outrage for OFWs all over the world, especially in light of developments in the pork barrel scam. Habang napag-aalaman nating bilyun-bilyong piso ang kinukurakot ng mga senador at kongresista, may mga katulad niyang wala ni isang kusing na nakukuhang tulong mula sa ating gobyerno. Nasaan na ang milyon pisong pondo sa Assistance to Nationals na sana’y nakalaan para sa mga tulad ni Tatay Fortunato? Kinurakot na rin ba nila?” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

He added, “Tatay Fortunato is terminally-ill and in need of urgent medical attention. Where is the government’s compassion? On the other hand, we have the likes of (Janet Lim) Napoles and (Gloria) Arroyo lavishing in airconditioned hospital rooms, funded by taxpayers’ money and OFWs’ remittances.”

Martinez called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Congress to investigate Prieto’s complaint that he was being asked to shoulder his own air fare home, as well as the lack of medical assistance from the embassy. ###