Stories of Despair, of a Future Dimmed, and of Concern for Fellow OFWs

In Riyadh, he said, in the cell beside where they were kept, an OFW suffered a stroke the day he was brought there.

Two days before their flight, two women OFWs gave birth. There was also an OFW in their batch of deportees who has bruises on his body. They feared that he has lost his sanity.

Navarro was finally deported on April 12.

Navarro wanted desperately to go home to his family in Palawan. But he chose to stay a little longer at the Migrante office in Quezon City to wait for his fellow OFWs. Navarro added that he did not want to stay at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) even if he was offered shelter and food there. “Limitado ang pagbaba (‘dun), itatawag muna ng gwardya sa ibaba kung lalabas kami. Kala namin nakatakas na kami sa kulungan, bilanggo pa rin naman pala.” (Our movements there are limited. The guards do not let us out unless they have verified that we are being allowed to do so. We felt that we were still in prison even if we have already gotten out of the deportation detention centers.)

“Nagpaplano nga kami ng reunion ‘pag nakabalik na kami dito,” he said. “’Yung inumpisahang laban (sa Saudi), itutuloy namin dito.” (We are planning a reunion once we are able to go back home. The struggles that we started in Saudi, we plan to pursue at home.)

Unfortunately, one OFW will no longer be reunited with his family or join their planned reunion.

Ryan Castillo, an OFW from Batangas City, died while in prison. While at the Riyadh deportation center, Navarro said he received a phone call from a fellow OFW at the Jeddah deportation center informing him that Castillo contracted a disease inside the prison cell where he was brought by Saudi immigration authorities. Castillo, he was told, later succumbed to a heart attack.

Philippine Consul General Ezzedin Tago confirmed that an OFW died at the Jeddah Deportation Center on April 6 and admitted that the OFW was unaccounted for as he was not endorsed for deportation.

Castillo reportedly posed as a pilgrim who had lost his identification and turned himself in to expedite his deportation.

Tago said that the Philippine Consulate had not endorsed the man who died. Endorsement by the Philippine government is required for Filipinos before they can be held for deportation. This process is aimed at weeding out criminals seeking an easy way to flee the country incognito, as well as workers who walked away from their jobs and want to avoid the more complicated process of seeking clearance from their employers for their final-exit visa.

Ricardo Abad, a future dimmed in Saudi Arabia

Even in his 50s, Ricardo Abad still tried his luck in Saudi in April 2007. His meager earnings from driving his tricycle in Davao could not support his 10 children. Two of his children who were already in college stopped schooling because they were short in finances.

When he got a job as a mixer driver in Saudi Arabia, Abad thought a brighter future is already within their reach. But his 950 SRI ($253.33) monthly salary plus 180 SRI ($48) food allowance, was not enough to give his family a decent life. He was sending his family only P5, 000 ($119.30 at an exchange rate of $1=P41.91) monthly from April to December last year. His son, the fourth of his 10 children, helped him support the family by driving their tricycle.

But in November 2007, the tire of his truck accidentally burst and the company charged him 2,000 SRI ($533.33). Another tire burst before the month ended and he was told that the same amount would be deducted from his salary again. He was also suspended in December because of this.

In January 2, he left the company because he could no longer afford another salary deduction that the company might impose again on him for accidents like the bursting of the tires.

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