‘Voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense’ hit

Published by rudy Date posted on March 18, 2011

An alliance of Filipino migrants group in the Middle East yesterday scored the Aquino government’s declaration on “voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense,” saying this is a disservice to the sector that is helping the economy being kept afloat through their billions of remittances and fees and exactions imposed by the government.

“‘Voluntary repatriation at OFWs own expense’ is but a disservice to OFWs; it is the state’s responsibility to secure the well being and safety of our Filipino workers abroad especially under adverse situation like wars and disasters or natural calamities and any burden should not be passed on to them,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Yesterday, the Department of Labor and Employment announced, citing the assessment issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) raising alert status to level 2 (restriction of movement) from alert level 1 (heightened alertness), that OFWs could be repatriated if they want to avail “voluntary repatriation” at their own expense.

The DFA yesterday announced that it will be sending a team to Bahrain to assess the peace and order situation and continuously study the viability of its contingency measures in evacuating OFWs in case the situation in Bahrain worsens.

Monterona said there were OFWs in Bahrain who called him yesterday asking for assistance as they are worried on their situation as they are relatively near Pearl Round-about where the security forces tried to disperse the protesters.

“One OFW called and informed me that yesterday the van driven by their Indian driver was stopped by anti-government protesters and attempted to hit them, but they were eventually allowed to pass after pleading,” Monterona quoting the OFW who requested not to be named.

He also cited the 40 OFWs working for Al Areen palace and spa at Sanaad, Bahrain and the 10 OFW-nurses working for Orthocare, asking for assistance as well as they manifested their intent to be repatriated.

“I explained to them that the Phlippine government is still mulling to announced voluntary repatriation, but this would be at their own expense,” Monterona said. The OFWs countered: “We don’t have money that’s why we are asking for assistance to be repatriated.”

Monterona added these OFWs are active members of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), thus in case they would like to be repatriated, the government must provide their airfare.

“We are certain there is a P100-million repatriation fund in OWWA, why not use this to provide airplane tickets for those who want to be home because of their worries over their safety,” Monterona suggested.

Monterona called on OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon to account the OWWA funds and the P100-million OWWA repatriation fund and furnish the information to OFWs stakeholders who are contributing $25 yearly.

“This is OFWs money, thus it should be spent on OFWs welfare programs and services,” Monterona ended.  –Daily Tribune

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