Philippine migrant rights group questions figures

Philippine migrant rights group questions figures
Updated 09 November 2013

Philippine migrant rights group questions figures

Philippine migrant rights group questions figures

The Filipino migrant rights group Migrante-Middle East and North Africa (M-MENA), citing contradicting data on the numbers of undocumented and stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia, has urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to reconcile their figures before releasing it to the public.
They also asked the Philippine government to abandon its labor export program.
Philippine Ambassador Ezziden H. Tago estimated the remaining undocumented Filipinos in the Kingdom to be around 1,400. He had told a local daily here Thursday that those remaining would be leaving the Kingdom in the coming week.
According to Tago, the number of OFWs who managed to correct their residency status based on Saudi Arabia’s official statistics was more than 15,000 workers and another 50,000 managed to transfer their sponsorship in addition to 104,364 who changed their profession during the grace period.
“We have noticed huge discrepancies in the figures of undocumented OFWs between the data from the DFA and DoLE that is misleading the public,” M-MENA coordinator John Leonard Monterona said.
He noted that the DFA, in its report issued recently, said there are already 5,000 undocumented OFWs repatriated from Saudi Arabia since April, while 1,600 had pending applications for regularization and repatriation, bringing the total to 6,600.
The DoLE, however, has its own figures of undocumented OFWs in the Kingdom totaling 12,000.
“According to DoLE, citing reports from its Saudi-based labor officials, as of Nov. 3, there were 4,300 who had already been repatriated, 1,008 still waiting for exit visas, and 6,692 issued new passports and travel documents,” Monterona pointed out.
He asked: “So which figure on undocumented OFWs in the Kingdom is right? The DFA’s 6,600 or the DoLE’s 12,000?”
He said if the DFA and the DoLE could not even reconcile their figures, it is no surprise that the Philippine government failed to make any concerted effort to provide assistance to the undocumented OFWs who have been seeking help from the government since April.
Quoting Saudi labor officials, he said it was observed that the documentation being done by foreign embassies and consulates have been very slow. Saudi labor offices will only issue exit visa if the undocumented OFW papers are complete.
“If there are still 6,692 Filipinos with newly issued passport and travel documents plus the 1,600 with pending applications for regularization and repatriation, we still have 8,292 undocumented OFWs out of the 12,000,” Monterona said.