CHRISTMAS came early for four distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stranded in Saudi Arabia, with a group of placement and recruitment agencies stepping in to arrange their immediate repatriation after the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Alkhobar, Saudi Arabia, relayed their appeal to go home after suffering abuses at the hands of their former employers.
According to Alliance of Bonafide Recruiters for OFW’s Advancement and Development (ABROAD) representative Anna Marie Nangan, who was at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Thursday to welcome the four OFWs home, the workers –– Arleen Mallano, Veronical Ruelan, Nina Sangcal, and Joejie Veloso –– had been stranded in the POLO Eastern Region Operations (ERO) offices in Alkhobar and had been unable to secure plane tickets home from their employers and respective recruitment agencies.
“The POLO has been taking care of them, providing custodial services, arranging their exit visas, and working to get their employers to pay for their trip home. Unfortunately, the employers have not been cooperative, so when we learned from POLO the situation of the four OFWs, we decided to help, bought them airline tickets, gave them cash for transportation expenses upon their return, and distributed loot bags for about 50 other OFWs who were also repatriated,” said Nangan.
Nangan, who was accompanied by fellow ABROAD representatives Imelda Enriquez and Anicia Regis, lamented that there were many such cases, and said that ABROAD was willing to work with government to address these issues, as well as other OFW concerns.
“Malaki ang utang na loob natin sa mga OFWs. Hindi lang mismo ang pamilya nila ang natutulungan nila; nakikinabang din ang buong bayan,” said Nangan.
(We owe our OFWs a huge debt of gratitude. It is not just their families they help; the whole country benefits.)
“Helping our OFWs should not be considered an act of charity, it should be considered the fulfillment of our responsibility. They are our brothers and sisters, they sacrifice for their families and for the nation, too, and they deserve our support and assistance.”
In a letter addressed to ABROAD dated September 9, POLO-ERO Welfare Officer Levin Reynald Gabutan thanked the coalition for “promptly acting on this matter the moment you received the information regarding the situation of the above-mentioned workers who are in need of repatriation assistance.”
“Your prompt and generous assistance extended without hesitation and out of humanitarian concern is truly appreciated,” added Gabutan.
ABROAD is a coalition of nine different recruitment agency associations: the Australia & New Zealand Association of Employment Providers of the Philippines, Inc. (ANZAEPP), the Association of Philippine Licensed Agencies for Technical Internship Program (APLATIP), the Association of Professional Philippine Manpower Agencies for China Inc. (APPMAC), the Japan Employment Providers of the Philippines & Consultants’ Association, Inc. (JEPPCA), the Overseas Placement Agencies of the Philippines (OPAP), the Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. (PASEI), the Pilipino Licensed Manpower Agencies for Taiwan (PILMAT), the Philippine Recruitment Agencies Association for Saudi Arabia (PRAASA), and the Philippine Association of Agencies Accredited to Oman (PAAAO).
There are an estimated 2.3 million documented OFWs working in various parts of the world, many of them in the Middle East. Last year remittances from OFW’s reached 32 billion US dollars, or 1.66 trillion pesos.