A Filipino migrant advocacy group has launched an online petition urging President Rodrigo Duterte to send another humanitarian mission to Saudi Arabia.
In the petition, United Overseas Filipinos Worldwide (U-OFW) asked Duterte to help “an
estimated 8,000 OFWs laid off” by companies due to the oil crisis in the Middle East who remain stranded abroad.
U-OFW said Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo herself admitted that “much remains to be done” based on the “assessment of the team members themselves.”
“Hence, we are suggesting that a Humanitarian Mission 2.0 must be organized soonest and dispatch with the same composition of teams because they already knew the real situation not only of the laid off but as well as the distressed and undocumented OFWs,” the petition stated.
In addition to these workers, the group claims that at least 800 undocumented OFWs living in their own rented houses in Riyadh and 3,000 in Jeddah are in need of repatriation.
About 40 female household service workers inside the Saudi Social Welfare agency (SSWa) in Riyadh and 50 at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) in the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah also need help, the group said.
OFWs outside the industries affected by the oil crisis in Saudi Arabia have also begun pleading for help after their employers allegedly detained them and cut their wages.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III vowed in September that the government will repatriate at least 2,000 OFWs by the end of the month.
Bello also promised to help settle salary and benefits disputes through government representatives and legal help from the Ministry of Labor of Saudi Arabia.
According to OWWA, there were 22,338 Filipino workers who worked at the nine major companies first identified by the government in its initial assessment of the oil crisis.
Of these, 8,772 have been repatriated while 5,098 have been transferred to other companies. A total of 8,619 decided to remain in company camps to pursue their back wages and end-of-service benefits.