Press Release
September 30, 2015

Returning OFWs seek help of Senator Villar for over 200 stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia

Senator Cynthia Villar urged the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment to attend to the needs of over two hundred (200) distressed Filipino migrant workers stranded in Jubail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia due to management problems encountered by their construction company, Mohammad Al-Mojil Group (MMG).

Villar listened to the stories shared by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Jonathan Basi, Jimmy Wuthrich, Guillermo Recomio and Roque Capistrano. The MMG-hired OFWs complained that since 2013, they were among almost 500 workers who were stranded for two years in Jubail.

The senator also extended financial assistance to the distressed workers as well as starter kits for a small sari-sari store to enable them to begin anew.

"This is part of our modest efforts to assist repatriated and distressed overseas workers. It has become my personal mission to see to it that those who were not able to fulfill their dreams as OFWs through no fault of their own, should have a second start right here at home," Senator Villar added.

The four workers expressed concern for their fellow OFWs who continue to stay under miserable conditions at campsites operated by MMG. "We received information that the company would turn off electricity in their accommodations during the hottest part of the day. This has led several of these workers to fall ill, without proper medical attention and access to maintenance medicines," Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said.

"Our company was hit by Saudization and it affected its operations. As a result, we were not paid our salaries and benefits, and we couldn't go home without the cooperation and permission of our company. We also could not move around because we were not provided residency permits, and thus are vulnerable to arrest by Saudi authorities," Guillermo Recomio explained.

The workers appealed to Senator Villar for the government to find a way to bring the remaining stranded OFWs home to their families. Two of the workers have died of natural causes but their remains are still lying in state inside a morgue. Some of the workers have also fallen ill, due to hypertension and other ailments. "I promised the four workers that I will look into the plight of those left behind in the accommodations of MMG. I also requested the representatives of the Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration to make sure that these stranded workers are given humanitarian and repatriation assistance as soon as possible," Senator Villar said.

The workers arrived around 10.30 AM today and were met by representatives from OWWA, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and the Office of Senator Cynthia Villar.

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