Press Release
October 25, 2006


Sen. Richard Gordon, concurrently chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, has directed the PNRC through its affiliates abroad to extend help to Filipino oil workers in Tengiz, Kazhakstan, who were caught in a running fight between Turkish and Kazakh workers.

Gordon, who was in Geneva when the clashes broke out, had received numerous text messages from the OFWs in Khazakstan, asking for help, and expressing their desire to return home because they were also being harassed by Kazakh workers.

Gordon said that Bechtel Corporation, which employs some 500 Filipino workers at its oil drilling facility in Tengis, Western Kazhakstan, has already expressed its willingness to help Filipinos return to their homeland.

Gordon directed the PNRC to request the International Red Cross Society and the Red Crescent Society, the Red Cross equivalent in Muslim countries, to extend help to Filipinos who might be needing it.

Gordon said that some 40 Turkish workers were killed in a riot that broke out last October 20 after somebody broke into a line of men waiting for their meal at the canteen. Luckily, no Filipinos were seriously hurt in the melee.

However, after the riot, running fights broke out between Turkish and Khazak groups, causing fear among the Filipinos that they might be caught in the crossfire. Some OFWs said they were being harassed by Kazhaks, who would threaten or strike them at the back, and take their belongings, like cellphones. Some of them expressed their desire to go home.

Gordon said he had contacted Labor Secretary Arturo Brion to send his representatives to Kazakhstan to assess the situation of the OFWS there and arrange for the transportation back home of the OFWs if they so desire.

Gordon also contacted Filipino consul general in Kazakhstan Agnes Cervantes who assured him that she has talked to the Filipino workers there to assess their situation.

Eduardo Malaya, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, told Gordon that 447 Filipino workers have already been evacuated to a safe place to put them out of harm's way.

The frantic Filipino workers were able to contact Drilon through his cell phone after his number was supplied them by another worker who is a relative of the senator and who resides in Cabuyao, Laguna.

A spokesman for Tengizchevroil, which is the joint venture company involved in the drilling, admitted that hundreds of people were involved in the riot which resulted in the destruction of construction offices, vehicles and other equipment.Latest reports however indicated that the riots were starting to subside and that work would resume shortly.

The Philippine Embassy in Pakistan, which has responsibility for the Philippines' diplomatic relations with Kazakhstan, said that it had contacted the Filipino workers at Tengiz and that only three have expressed the desire to go home.

The OFWs in Tengiz are mostly employed as welders, electricians and pipefitters.

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