Press Release
November 5, 2013

Sen. Villar describes effects of Saudization as "bittersweet"; Tearful reunion expected as ailing OFW meets family tomorrow after 30 years in Saudi

Senator Cynthia Villar described as "bittersweet" the effects of Saudization for some overseas Filipinos who have made the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia their second home.

Villar, whose foundation has been working on the repatriation of 7 OFWs affected by the renewed crackdown in Saudi Arabia on overstaying foreign workers, noted that reunification of families after decades of separation can be the silver lining emerging from the current crisis.

"The Villar Foundation is proud to be a part of the reunification of families through our repatriation assistance program in partnership with the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Consulate in Saudi Arabia as well as our labor attaches," Senator Villar said.

Among the OFWs arriving tomorrow with the help of the Villar Foundation is Diego Mag-atas, Sr, a worker who has spent 30 years in Saudi Arabia, and deeply regrets not seeing his children grow up. After being estranged from his family for three decades, Mag-atas will be met at the airport by his daughter, Grace and other members of the family.

While in Saudi Arabia, Mag-atas obtained a rare spinal disease that hampered his physical movements and led to his termination from work. The Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah was able to help him acquire an exit visa prior to the end of the amnesty period last November 3.

Also travelling with Mag-atas is 71-years old Reynaldo Reposar who worked in a printing press in Saudi Arabia. He has been separated from his family for the past ten years.

"The Villar Foundation will continue to attend to the needs of these repatriated workers, and find out how else we can help their families. Meanwhile, we encourage all our OFWs with irregular papers to get in touch with the Philippine Embassy for appropriate assistance," Villar added.

Senator Villar also thanked various non-government organizations based in Saudi Arabia such as the Patnubay Group for extending assistance to distressed OFWs such as Diego Mag-atas, Sr. Patnubay works closely with the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a Manila-based NGO with an existing partnership with the Villar Foundation.

"I urge the DSWD to designate social workers for repatriated workers from Saudi Arabia, especially the women who harbor deep emotional scars after working abroad for several years," Senator Villar said.

The other OFWs arriving tomorrow as beneficiaries of the Villar Foundation's repatiation assistance program are victims of human trafficking and runaway domestic workers.

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