We call on the Philippine government to take immediate action on the worsening plight of Filipino migrants living and working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
Specifically, we demand that Pres. Benigno Aquino III and his administration provide immediate attention, relief and repatriation to the many Filipino migrants and their children who have sought refuge outside the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah, KSA requesting to be repatriated back to the Philippines.
Based on news reports, around 2,235 Filipinos, including women and children, have camped outside the premises of the Philippine Consulate General. All of them are pleading the Philippine government to facilitate their travel back to the Philippines and be reunited with their families. All of the 2,235 are undocumented migrants.
With the massive crackdowns initiated by the KSA government on undocumented migrants as part of its Nitaqat program, or Saudization of labor in the KSA, the worsening conditions of migrant workers in the kingdom have been widely exposed.
With limited rights and freedoms, migrant workers are forced by restrictive policies to become undocumented in the process. Such policies and practices include the Kafala system wherein the migrant worker’s fate is tied to his/her employer who determines whether s/he can get a new employer or leave. Most migrant workers, facing such grave threats or experiencing so much abuse, are forced to flee, which is considered illegal in the KSA.
No ordinary person would feel comfortable seeing the more than 2,000 stranded Filipinos face uncertainty while suffering from hunger and such harsh weather conditions (ranging 37 to 40 C during the day). We have already heard of women and children getting sick.
This utter disregard by the Philippine government to the plight of their much-acclaimed new economic heroes of the Philippines only smacks at opportunism and hypocrisy. We find this unacceptable.
We call on the Philippine government to take immediate action: (a) to facilitate the repatriation process for the many stranded Filipinos in the KSA, starting off with the 2,235 in what is now known as Jeddah Tent City; and (b) to provide immediate relief and assistance to the Filipino migrants, especially the women and children.
As has been proven in the past, the Philippine president can always appeal to the KSA government to take serious consideration and in this situation, grant general amnesty to the Filipino nationals languishing in the kingdom right now.
With the upcoming senatorial elections coming, it is best that all government officials take action in attending to the welfare needs of the stranded Filipinos and ensure their immediate repatriation.