Press Release
May 20, 2008

Villar calls for the immediate repatriation of stranded OFWs in Middle East

Senate President Manny Villar today called for the immediate repatriation of overseas Filipino workers who are detained and stranded in Kuwait, Jordan, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including Filipino drivers illegally recruited and forced to drive from Kuwait to Iraq.

"Government must immediately act and prove that the accolade overseas Filipino workers are the 'bagong bayani' is not just lip service. OFWs in distress should be accorded speedy and efficient humanitarian aid," Villar said.

Villar authored Proposed Resolution 389 in the Senate recommending to the Department of Foreign Affairs to cause the immediate documentation, validation, perform the necessary diplomatic representation and repatriation of OFWs stranded and detained in the Middle East.

"The immediate assistance of DFA is needed in providing legal assistance and medical help in the case of ill OFWs housed in the OFW center within their jurisdiction," he said.

In a visit to the Office of Senate President Villar, Migrante, an alliance of organizations composed of OFWs and their families, pushed for the repatriation of the following:

  • Eleven victims of illegal recruitment in Dubai;

  • More than 100 drivers hired in Kuwait and forced to drive to Iraq;

  • At least seven innocently detained in Kuwait;

  • 108 women OFWs stranded in the Filipino Workers Resource Center in Jordan, including a woman who was physically assaulted by an employer resulting in a fractured spinal column;

  • 44 women stranded in Abha, Saudi Arabia

Villar, also the Nacionalista Party president, said around two million OFWs are in the Middle East, of which, one-third are unskilled workers. Filipinos in the Middle East are technical professionals, teachers, nurses and workers in allied medical professions.

"The OFWs are our most potent partner in achieving economic development with their remittances accounting 15 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product," he said.

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