Dreams Turned Nightmare: Is There Still Hope for Stranded OFWs in Jeddah?

Women, children not spared

Aside from the 24 males, 54 female OFWs were also turned over to the Immigration Police and were reportedly brought to different deportation facilities. OFW Sarah Masukat, who is four months pregnant and with a one year and 9 months old son Ryan told Ociones that some of the stranded female OFWs have been transferred to various facilities and some ended up being returned to their abusive employers.

Ociones said among the 54 were 43 female OFWs, mostly domestic helpers who were staying at the Welfare Center of the Overseas Workers Welfare Agency (OWWA). They were convinced by their case officers to go through the deportation proceedings because they were told that nothing would happen to their case (“walang kahihinatnan”). Among them were Leonora Somera and Syrel Morada.

Somera, a domestic helper in her 60s who was forced to shepherd goats have not received her salary for 18 years. She stayed at the Welfare Center in Jeddah for more than two years while her case was being heard. Ociones said that last year, Consulate officials bragged that they would be able to facilitate Somera’s repatriation after her case was resolved. But the migrant leader said they have confirmed that Somera is still in Jeddah and is among those camping out under the bridge.

Morada, who was brought to a deportation facility, is reportedly becoming weaker by the day. Ociones said that Morada, who is short and thin, could not wrestle for the meager food being given to them because the detainees from other nationalities are bigger.

Some of the deportees are suffering from loose bowel movement and fever, including Masukat’s son Ryan.

Losing hope
Another group of OFWs in a deportation facility in Jeddah likewise suffered the same fate in March.

“Gud am sir.pls help us 2b w/ our families, we r out of options alrdy.we dntknow wat 2 do ortink anymr.d consolet cnt help,dey evn mek 8 worse!gudnyt! pray 4 us…” (Good morning, sir. Please help us to be with our families, we are out of options already. We don’t know what to do or to think anymore. The Consulate can’t help. They even make it worse! Good night! Pray for us) read a text message from one of the OFWs Darren Belloc to Migrante International Secretary-General Maita Santiago last March 6.

His wife echoed the same grief in a text message to Santiago on March 10, “Mam, pinuntahan na daw po sila Darren ngayon ng taga-consulate. Sinabihan na sila na wala na daw sila magagawa. Kaya nagready na sila Darren para anytime byahe na sila pabalik Riyadh. Darren said kanina na baka sa Riyadh na lang daw i-distribute ang plane ticket nila” (Mam Darren was visited by an official from the Philippine consulate in Jeddah. They were told that the consulate could not do anything about their case. So they are getting ready to leave for Riyadh. Darren said that their plane tickets to the Philippines might be distributed to them in Riyadh.)

But the relatives of these OFWs awaiting deportation have been wondering where the plane tickets Philippine officials in Saudi allegedly promised the OFWs are. Ginalynne said her husband Darren told her that they were indeed promised tickets and that these tickets have already been approved.

On March 10, Darren texted Santiago,” We just hope na maabutan pa namin ang tiket kasi kung mabyahe na kami, magkakawatak-watak kami at mahihirapan na kami lalo kasi walang silbi ang konsulado o embassy sa Riyadh. Sana maagapan nila kami at ma-fax na ang tiket namin. We beg you all for your help. It’s really hard for us and our family. Congen Tago has a heart of stone.” (We just hope that we would be given our tickets while we are still here. Because if we are brought to Riyadh we would surely be separated from each other. It would be more difficult for us in Riyadh because the Philippine consulate or embassy in Riyadh are of no use. We hope we could already get our tickets and that it would be faxed to us here. We beg you all for your help. It’s really hard for us and our family. Consul General Tao has a heart of stone.)

The next day, before the 31 were transported to Riyadh, Darren texted Santiago again, “Ma’m can you text me if how true is the ticket? Hindi ba pwede ma-release na bukas night na kami ibyahe. Mahirap na kung magkawatak-watak na. Sigurado walang assistance magawa ang embassy sa Riyadh. Wala na po kami magawa, kundi ‘yung tiket na lang. Sana maabutan pa kami” (Mam can you text to us if the promised tickets are true? Can it not be released soon because we would be brought to Riyadh tomorrow night. It would be more difficult then because we would be separated from each other. We are sure that the embassy in Riyadh would not be able to help us. Our only hope is to be able to get the ticket before we are taken to Riyadh.)

Jenny, wife of OFW Marlon Ambil, told Bulatlat that she even heard some Arab-sounding men in the background when she got to talk to her husband before the transfer.

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