Press Release
November 20, 2013


THE wheelchair-bound Diego Yacub Mag-atas, who was earlier barred from leaving Jeddah, was finally reunited with his family after arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at 10:30 Tuesday night.

The distressed Mag-atas arrived in the country from Jeddah via Etihad Airways Flight No. EY 428. He was met by his son Dennis, niece Grace Mag-atas and aunt Seth Santos.

Mag-atas will then be taken to undergo medical check-up at Las Piñas General Hospital where Senator Cynthia A. Villar will meet him.

Villar earlier appealed to the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah to hasten the repatriation of the 53-year old Mag-atas who was afflicted with a rare ailment causing his spinal to become weak.

"Mang Diego badly wants to be with his family. He has not seen them for 30 years. They are also longing to see him come home," said Villar.

The Villar Foundation paid for the plane tickets of Mag-atas, but the senator clarified there was no PDAF involved here.

Mag-atas was initially scheduled to return to the Philippines together with four other OFWs last November 6, but failed to do so due to the lack of medical certificate showing he is fit to travel.

The Philippine Consulate's Assistance-to-Nationals Section also failed to provide Mag-atas copy of his e-ticket.

The senator, whose advocacies include helping Filipino migrant workers who were not lucky enough in working abroad, renewed her call to the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Consulate-General to assign a team at the Saudi airport to facilitate the department of OFWs with exit visas and tickets not issued by the government.

She called on our diplomatic posts in Saudi Arabia to assign OFW assistance teams at the international airport in Saudi Arabia to guide and assist departing Filipino workers regardless of where they got their tickets from. "Some of our workers think they can leave because all their papers are inorder only to encounter problems at the airport just like what happened to Mag-atas," lamented Villar.

Villar said the harrowing ordeal of our returning OFWs should serve a stern reminder for the government to focus on job creation in the same way the Saudi government is doing its best to provide jobs for their nationals.

"We need to help thousands of our repatriated OFWs to get back to their feet and move forward , hopefully without going back to the Middle East to work," further stated Villar.

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