Aquino urged to use ‘influence’ to help illegal OFWs in Saudi Arabia

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President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — If he is really one of 100 most influential people in the world as Time magazine says, then President Aquino should not hesitate to use diplomacy and mobilize the government’s resources to help the thousands of undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) facing arrest and deportation in Saudi Arabia, according to a former ambassador.

“Mr. President, I wish you can directly act on the problems of the 3,000 stranded OFWs, including children, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia now staying in makeshift tents in virtually boiling temperatures,” Roy Señeres, former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said in a statement posted on his Facebook account.

Señeres was referring to the OFWs who have camped outside the Philippine consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, asking to be repatriated quickly before Saudi authorities resume their crackdown against illegal and undocumented workers in three months.

The former ambassador, citing sources in Saudi Arabia, said the number of Filipinos camped outside the consulate had reached 3,000. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) placed the number at around 1,000, saying undocumented OFWs “come and go,” while local Saudi dailies said the campers numbered more than 2,000.

Señeres said Aquino should invite the Saudi ambassador to Malacañang and ask him to make representations with Saudi King Abdullah to allow the stranded OFWs to stay in Jeddah’s air-conditioned sports stadium.

The former envoy said the President should also instruct Philippine ambassadors in neighboring UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Iran to proceed to Saudi Arabia and assist Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago.

Tago and his staff, even if they are “among the best” in the foreign service corps, “just cannot cope with the magnitude of the problem,” according to Señeres, who is the first nominee of the OFW Family party-list and whose son Christian is a senatorial candidate of the Democratic Party of the Philippines.

The former envoy also said the President should release a “substantial amount” from his calamity fund to defray the cost of repatriating the OFWs.

“Needless to say, this is a calamity,” Señeres said.

The President, he added, should also ask the Philippines’ fellow member-states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) “to urge their national airlines to provide free plane tickets to the stranded Filipinos to Manila and by way of reciprocity, provide the same privilege to fellow Asean citizens on Philippine flag carriers who may be encountering the same problems in Saudi Arabia.”

Aquino should also conduct regional gatherings of the families of the stranded OFWs in the Philippines “to give them appropriate psychological counseling, financial assistance on account of the sudden job dislocations of their breadwinners, and other forms of assistance.”

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  • ARIKUTIK

    Penoy is influential,100% true. He has infected the entire government with her virus of incompetence. Example, the Custom bureau among others. But when it comes to international influence, take a look at Sabah. Penoy influenced the Malaysian to torture the Filipinos in Sabah.
    As for situation in Saudi Arabia, Penoy influence had delayed the execution of guilty Filipino until after election but Penoy forgot about those thousands INNOCENT stranded Filipinos.

    Penoy influence is deadly virus.

  • Joaquin Fernandez

    This is totally ridiculous, a silly suggestion which would reduce the POEA into a useless agency. We assume that these Filipinos have entered illegally or have expired contracts but opted to remain in there. Either way,they are referred to as “undocumented and illegal”. POEA has strict rules on OFWs and if Filipinos who continue to violate and disregard this regulations. But it seems that these “illegal settlers” are getting the same if not better treatment from the government. We might as well abolish POEA. One nagging question also is how our government handles those who have committed crimes abroad. VP Binay is capitalizing on these captured Filipinos, playing on sympathy with the help of media. If a Filipino commits the crime here he is jailed, if it is somewhere else he is given full government backing and media support even tot he extent of using public funds (as what PCSO Morato is bragging) to save them. This is truly outrageous.

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