Only a tenth of stranded OFWs in Saudi repatriated

Paterno Esmaquel II
The DFA says 11 more undocumented workers from Saudi arrive Wednesday

SAUDI CRACKDOWN. Foreign illegal laborers wait in a long queue outside the Saudi immigration offices at the Al-Isha quarter of the Al-Khazan district, west of Riyadh, on May 28. Photo by AFP /Fayez Nureldine

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has repatriated at least 10% of the undocumented Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia who want to return to the Philippines, latest figures show.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippines has brought back 1,008 undocumented workers in Saudi as of Wednesday, July 10.

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said 11 more undocumented Filipinos from Riyadh will arrive Tuesday afternoon. These Filipinos will bring to 470 the number of repatriates from Riyadh, Hernandez said.

From Jeddah, on the other hand, the government has repatriated 549.

The migrant workers’ group Migrante said up to 10,000 OFWs in Saudi seek repatriation.

“Philippine government repatriation efforts are still wanting,” said Migrante vice chairman John Leonard Monterona in a statement Monday, July 8, when repatriates reached only 883. 

‘Shrinking markets’

In a separate statement on Wednesday, Migrante said it fears thousands of OFWs, such as the Saudi repatriates, will end up jobless by the end of the year.

The crackdown on undocumented workers in Saudi shows policies “geared toward nationalization of their respective labor markets,” Monterona said. “It tells us about shrinking of labor markets previously available to OFWs.”

Migrante said up to 2 million OFWs could lose their jobs by end-2013, but details provided by the group showed only 431,300 OFWs would possibly be affected.

The group also based their data on hypothetical situations, such as “if a full-blown civil war” ensued in Egypt and if all undocumented workers would be repatriated.

Despite these problems faced by OFWs, the group said the Aquino administration has intensified “human labor exportation.”

Statistics show the Philippines deployed 1,802,031 overseas workers in 2012. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.