Louie Bedaho Belista, 36, who died due to a severe asthma attack, was the sixth person to die at the Tent City in Jeddah.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — A stranded overseas Filipino worker who sought refuge at the Tent City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia died due to asthma attack on Oct. 6, Migrante Middle East and North Africa reported.
“He was the sixth person to die at the Tent City in Jeddah,” John Monterona, Migrante Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.
Louie Bedaho Belista, 36, died in the tent city in Jeddah around 11:30 p.m., according to Marlon Gatdula, chairperson of Migrante-Jeddah. He added that Belista, a nurse, was also helping treat fellow Filipinos who are sick.
Belista is among the thousands of stranded overseas Filipino workers are seeking refuge at tent cities in Riyadh and in Jeddah in front of the Philippine embassy and consulate, respectively, due to the implementation of the Nitaqat Scheme, a labor policy that requires Saudi companies to hire Saudi nationals to comprise at least 10 percent of their total workforce.
The said policy has resulted to crackdowns on undocumented workers, most of them have escaped their employers due to poor working conditions, and, at times, sexual abuses.
The Saudi government has moved the deadline to November 3 for all undocumented workers to be repatriated.
In Jeddah alone, there are 400 stranded Filipinos who have asked Philippine consulate officials to process their repatriation.
Monterona said they are have repeatedly warned the Philippine government and its consulate in Jeddah to fast track the repatriation, especially those with children, women, the old and sick.
Gatdula said Belista was confined twice in a hospital but he did not receive proper medication nor assistance from the Philippine government. His remains lies at the King Fahad Hospital morgue and that his family back in Nueva Vizcaya has already been informed by one of the officials of Migrante.
“Prior to his death, Mr. Belista sought assistance from Migrante after he complained that he did not receive medical assistance from Philippine consulate and labor officials,” Gatdula said.
Sixth to die
Migrante Middle East and North Africa said in a statement that Belista is the sixth person to die in the tent city. Of the reported five deaths prior to Belista, Monterona said, the Philippine government only confirmed three cases.
Monterona said more cases of Filipinos getting sick, or worse dying, in tent cities could happen if the government will not provide medical assistance and urgently process their immediate repatriation. He added that President Aquino should be held accountable for the deaths of the six Filipinos who died while waiting for repatriation.
He said, “the Aquino administration, like the previous regime, is not providing social services and on-site protection for overseas Filipino workers. Billions of pesos are being pocketed by politicians while there are hardly funds allocated for the welfare and protection of OFWs.”