Petition Urges Repatriation of OFWs Stranded in Saudi Braving 42-48 C Heat in Halfway House

By: Tricia Aquino,
June 5, 2015 1:02 PM

2015-0607 Petition Urges Repatriation of OFWs Stranded in Saudi Braving 42-48 C Heat in Halfway House

Some of the OFWs stranded in Saudi Arabia who are asking the government for immediate repatriation. (photo from Migrante-Middle East)

MANILA, Philippines — A migrants advocacy group has mounted an online petition urging the government to bring home at least 130 overseas Filipino workers stranded in Saudi Arabia, where they endure temperatures between 42-48 degrees Celsius in a cramped villa rented by the Philippine embassy in the Middle East kingdom.

Migrante-Middle East’s petition, “Effect the swift and free mass repatriation of stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia,” on advocacy platform is addressed to President Benigno Aquino III, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and Foreign Affairs Secrertary Albert Del Rosario.

It was created by Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona.

The petition comes on the heels of two suicide bombings on Shiite mosques in Dammam and Qatiff, on May 29 and 22, respectively.

The stranded OFWs, all male, are staying in “Exit 8 stranded estraha (villa),” with at least 30 having been there since July 2013 and the rest for three months to a year, according to the petition.

With only two rooms that can accommodate a maximum of 30 people (the petition was unclear if this was for each of the rooms, or both), the OFWs have been forced to build makeshift tents out of used tarpaulin, putting these up even in the villa’s empty swimming pool.

The villa’s old air conditioning system has failed to provide relief from the sweltering heat from those who managed to squeeze indoors.

According to Migrante-Middle East, the number of distressed male OFWs seeking assistance is expected to rise as more take refuge in the villa.

Among those living in the villa is Pampanga native Lorenzo Siron, Jr., 62, who has been there since March last year.

He fled from his first job due to alleged labor malpractices at the hands of his employer. While seeking assistance from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh, he continued to work part-time to send money home to his family. It was at one of these gigs that his left hand was cut off in an accident.

Dumating po ako rito sa Saudi Arabia noong 2009. Hanggang ngayon po nandito pa ako. Panawagan ko lang po ‘yung mapauwi kaming lahat dito na nai-stranded sa dito sa estraha. ‘Yun lang po. Mahal na Pangulo, tulungan niyo po kami (I arrived in Saudi Arabia in 2009. Until today I am still here. I seek assistance in getting home, along with the others who had been stranded here in the villa. That is all. Beloved President, please help us),” he said in a video recorded for the petition.

Rodel Lozano, 50, also of Pampanga, echoed Siron’s sentiments. A former cook in Al-Kharj, he suffered a stroke last year.

Nananawagan po ako sa mahal na Pangulo natin na pauwiin na kami nahihirapan po kami rito sa kalagayan ngayon. Napakainit po rito. Sana po makauwi na kaagad-agad (I would like to ask our beloved President to bring us home because life is really hard here. It’s so hot here. Please bring us home immediately),” Lozano said, also in a video recording.

Bataan local Rodelio Ocampo, 34, also made an appeal to Aquino.

Kami po ay umaasa na matugunan ng ating mahal na Pangulo dahil kami po ay hirap na hirap na sa aming kalagayan dito sa aming tinatawag na Bahay Kalinga. Dahil po sa sobrang init na aming tinatamasa sa araw-araw at ng aming mga pamilya sa Pinas na umaasa sa aming mga pinadadala buwan-buwan (We hope that our beloved President will help us because life is really hard here in what we call Bahay Kalinga. Not only do we have to endure intense heat, but our families back in the Philippines are counting on our remittances, too),” he said in another video.

Migrante-Middle East and its affiliate, Migrante-Saudi Arabia, called on Aquino, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment, to work on the mass repatriation of all stranded OFWs, first “by initiating high-level talks with its Saudi counterpart citing humanitarian considerations.”

Other steps they said should be taken include:

  1. Immediately arranging for decent and livable accommodations for the stranded OFWs
  2. Regularly supplying food and potable water
  3. Regularly providing medical check-up and supply of medicines for colds and flu
  4. Providing airplane tickets for those who have their travel documents and exit visas ready

The petition can be viewed and signed here:


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