MANILA – On National Migrants Day, overseas Filipino workers from Saudi Arabia who were recently repatriated trooped to Mendiola to call on the Aquino administration to fast track the repatriation of stranded Filipinos in Saudi before the crackdown resumes on July 3.
“Each passing day without urgent and decisive action from the Philippine government is a life and death situation for OFWs who are barely surviving in the campouts,” Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, said.
The crackdown was a result of the implementation of the Nitaqat scheme or the Saudization policy. Under the said policy, companies in Saudi are required to hire its locals to comprise at least 10 percent of their total workforce. The deadline for undocumented migrant workers to leave Saudi Arabia is on July 3.
Migrante estimated that there are about 1,000 OFWs still stranded in Riyadh and about 5,000 in Jeddah. At the rate the government is going in repatriating Filipino workers, Martinez said, only a handful might be sent home by July 3.
“The government has to act faster or we can expect the humanitarian crisis in Saudi to balloon ten-fold after July 3,” he said.
Migrante said Filipino workers residing in tent cities are also renewing their call for donations of food, water and medicines. Martinez said most of them are also concerned over the reported spread of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (Mers-cov).