POEA chief Hans Cacdac, as seen in his FB page: Marching orders to meet recruiters of OFWs in Najran, Saudi Arabia.
MANILA – Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz has instructed Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to meet right away with the licensed Philippine recruitment agencies (PRAs) that deployed workers to Najran City in Saudi Arabia, to apprise them of the fresh dangers there and safety measures for OFWs amid fresh attacks by the rebel Yemeni Houthis in the southwestern Arabian region.
According to Baldoz, Labor Attache Jainal ‘Jun’ Rasul reported that cross-border shellings have resumed in the area, and certain military establishments and some residential areas were hit. A mortar shell hit staff accommodation at the Hyatt Hotel, added Baldoz, who expressed relief thaht the four OFWs affected were only slightly injured and are now out of danger.
“Hiniling ni Labor Attache Rasul sa POEA na makipag-pulong kasama ang mga PRAs na nagpapadala ng mga OFW sa Najran upang ipaalam sa kanila ang sitwasyon doon at magkaroon ng koordinasyon sa kanilang foreign counterpart para sa aksiyon na kailangan nilang gawin upang tiyakin ang kaligtasan ng kanilang manggagawa doon [Labor Attache Rasul asked the POEA to meet the PRAs sending OFWs to Najran to apprise them of the situation there and have them coordinate with their foreign counterparts on the course of action to ensure the safety of the workers],” Baldoz added.
Labor Attache Rasul had sent a team – three POLO staffers – when he heard the news of the shelling at the cross-border in Najran City, to help the OFWs there.
The team reported that some establishments near the border shut down after the shelling, and most Filipinos sought help from the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah for their possible relocation to a safe area.
Najran is 900 kilometers south of Jeddah, or a 12-hour trip by land. According to Rasul, there are 2,000 OFWs in Najran, and “more than half of them work in hospitals. The Ministry of Health in Najran said 711 OFWs work in seven hospitals of the MOH, while 306 nurses and medical staff work in the Armed Forces Hospital.”
He added that some nurses work in private clinics in the city, and “other OFWs are in construction, services, maintenance, and other sectors.”
Rasul said some OFWs also work in the nine government-owned establishments, including the Saudi Customs and Saudi Electricity Co., and still others are in 74 private business establishments.