OFWs voice disappointment at cancellation of VP visit
By ABDUL HANNAN TAGO | ARAB NEWS
Published: Feb 28, 2011 23:22 Updated: Feb 28, 2011 23:22
RIYADH: Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia on Monday expressed severe disappointment after hearing that Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay had canceled a planned visit to the Kingdom.
Instead, the Philippine leader flew to Dubai on a Kuwait Airways flight on Sunday.
Regional coordinator for the Filipino advocacy group Migrante-Middle East John Leonard Monterona blamed the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Department for Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) Undersecretary for Administration Rafael Seguis for the canceled visit. Binay was also supposed to visit the Kingdom last December, but that was also canceled.
According to Monterona, Seguis was in Riyadh for a couple of days prior to Binay’s visit. He added that Seguis should have been in Libya, not Saudi Arabia, to help the DFA evacuate Filipino workers trapped there.
An unidentified Filipino worker has been killed amid the political turmoil in Libya, according to Migrante. Monterona said the OFW working for oilfield drilling and workover services provider Challenger Limited was killed when soldiers attacked their work site on Feb. 21.
Another Migrante member said the OFW tried to escape but fell from a rig.
Binay expressed regret on his website for the cancellation of his visit, adding that he plans to reschedule his trip as soon as possible.
According to letters seen by Arab News, presidential staff have instructed the DFA and Department of Labor and Employment to take appropriate action against embassy staff in Riyadh for allegedly not looking after the concerns of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) properly.
Chairman of Migrante-Saudi Arabia Mario Ben said: “This is again a missed opportunity, not only for us OFWs but also the vice president, who is also the presidential adviser for OFW concerns.
“The Filipino community in Saudi Arabia had been expecting Binay to visit us last December, but it was postponed due to a conflict of schedules and prior commitments.”
Ben claimed members of Binay’s delegation were unable to obtain visas, according to his sources.
“Besides visa problems, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah was also not available to meet the vice president, which could have also contributed to Binay canceling his visit,” Ben added.
Monterona said there were 200 stranded OFWs, some with children, in Jeddah. He added that there are 1,200 OFWs in prison, including eight on death row. Other unresolved issues include the case of murdered housemaid Romilyn Eroy-Ibañez and 120 distressed OFWs staying at the Bahay Kalinga shelter in Riyadh.
“We can’t expect the president to be addressing these issues as he had in fact designated Vice President Binay as his troubleshooter for the numerous problems and concerns of OFWs,” Monterona said.
So here we are again with these useless people at the Phil. Embassy in Riyadh. When will our government ever learn? These people in the embassy here in Riyadh are nothing but a group of idiots who do not know how to do their job professionally. All of them must be replaced with experienced ones and familiar with the Saudi Arabia's culture.