Press Release
January 17, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today asked the management of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) to reconsider its decision to discontinue its flights between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia effective March 2, 2006.

Pimentel said the stoppage of the Manila-Riyadh flights of PAL, the countrys flag carrier is difficult to understand because close to a million overseas Filipino workers are employed in the oil-rich kingdom who make up a captive market for the airline.

This is a big letdown for our overseas workers based in Saudi Arabia and nearby countries in the Middle East who rely on PAL for their transportation needs, he said.

I believe this is a mistake. PAL management should rethink its decision if only for the sake of the OFWs.

The lone senator from Mindanao made the appeal in response to the request of Middle East-based Filipino workers who complain that the discontinuance of PALs Manila-Riyadh flights will not only inconvenience the OFWs but will also deal a psychological blow to them.

In a letter to Pimentel, Valentin Arroco, administrative officer of Al Miawiah Outdoor Advertising Company in Riyadh, criticized PALs decision as unreasonable and cruel.

Arroco describe PALs regular flights between Manila and Riyadh is a great source of pride among the OFWs.

He said the PALs move is a huge setback since the OFWs in the Saudi Arabia are still striving to change the image of Filipinos who used to be largely confined to construction work in Saudi Arabia during the infrastructure boom in past decades but are now spread in various fields.

And now with PAL moving out of Saudi Arabias skies, this move is not at all helping keep our flag afloat amidst the hardships and challenges that the Filipino workers are facing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Arroco said.

Pimentel also urged the Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Foreign Affairs to make representation with PAL in a bid to persuade it to continue the direct flights between Manila and Riyadh.

He said he agreed with the observation of Saudi Arabia-based OFWs that this is a disservice to the modern-day heroes whose steady remittances of their dollar earnings to their families back home has helped stabilized the Philippine economy.

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