‘Send us home, our families need us’

May 24, 2015

By Migrante-Middle East
Stranded OFWs makeshift inside Exit 8 estraha.

Stranded OFWs makeshift inside Exit 8 estraha. Image from Migrante

Thus, appealed today by an estimated one hundred thirty (130) stranded male overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have been staying at the PH embassy-rented villa in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The place where the stranded male OFWs have been sheltered is known as ‘Exit 8 stranded estraha’ (villa). The supposed-to-be temporary stay has somewhat became ‘permanent’ so to speak for the at least 30 stranded (out of the 130) OFWs who have been living at the half-way shelter since July 2013. The rest of the stranded OFWs have been at Exit 8 estraha for at least three months to 1 year.

There are two rooms inside the Exit 8 estraha and these could only accommodate 30 people at the maximum. But the number of distress male OFWs seeking for assistance and refuge is steadily rising, hence at present 130 male stranded OFWs are now in Exit 8 estraha.

There were no enough rooms to rest and sleep, thus makeshifts made up of used tarpaulin have been built by the stranded OFWs themselves. Even at an empty swimming pool, makeshifts were built. (See photos). With a high temperature ranging as high as 42 to 48 degree Celsius, indeed living inside the makeshift without an air conditioning is miserable to say the least.

Lorenzo G. Siron, Jr., 62, of Dapdap, Mabalacat, Pampanga has been in Exit 8 estraha since March 2014. He alleged that he was a victim of his employer labor malpractices thus forcing him to run away and sought assistance from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh. In order to survive for his daily subsistence and to continue sending remittance to his family, he looks and work part time jobs. He was so unfortunate that on March 29 he met an accident cutting off his left hand at his part time job.

Tatay Enzo has shared his appeal to us during Migrante-KSA affiliates outreach activity. And he has this to say, Video link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3ogrd3DjIY

Rodel Lozano, 50, of Gua-gua, Pampanga, is also a stranded OFW. He worked as a cook in Al-Kharj, 120-kilometers from Riyadh. Last year, he suffered a stroke. Like Tatay Enzo, Manong Rodel has shared his appeal to us and had asked Migrante-Middle East to convey his appeal to the concerned Philippine government officials, Video link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_BcoFL0jfA

For and on behalf of the stranded OFWs, Rodelio S. Ocampo, 34, of Orani, Bataan among the stranded also issued an appeal. He called on Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III to facilitate swift and free mass repatriation of all stranded OFWs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “We are hoping that our beloved president will attend our appeal as we are in a very dire situation at what we called Bahay Kalinga. Our families are relying for our remittances monthly in which we could no longer send. Our appeal, bring us home so that we could be with our families and start a living again.” OFW Ocampo’s appeal video link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVQW4jdQrZo

On their part, Migrante-Middle East and affiliate organizations of Migrante-Saudi Arabia also calls on Pres. Aquino III to heed on the appeals on the stranded OFWs and their families mainly their swift and free mass repatriation. Pres. Aquino can task the DFA and DoLE to work out the repatriation of all stranded OFWs by initiating high level talks with its Saudi counterpart citing humanitarian considerations.

On the immediate, the following must be provided by the concerned PH government agencies like DoLE-POLO and OWWA onsite offices:

1. Immediately arrange for decent and livable accommodations for the stranded OFWs.
2. Regular supply of food and potable water.
3. Regular medical checkup and supply of medicines for cold and flu.
4. Airplane tickets for those who have their travel documents and exit visas ready.

References:

Rodelio S. Ocampo
Exit 8 Stranded Spokesperson
Mobile: 00966 54 366 8388

Ruel Espana
Migrante Sectoral Party-Riyadh coordinator
Mobile: 00966 53 073 0863

Richard Bautista
Migrante-KSA Campaign coordinator
Mobile: 00966 50 225 6103

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile: 00966 53 908 1974