“OFWs all over the world are in grief and collective rage over this incident.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – A Filipino migrant rights group expressed their condolences to the family of an overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia who was found dead in an apparent suicide on Feb. 29.
“How can the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Aquino government say that there is no crisis and that it is not yet full blown? What are they waiting for to help OFWs in need?” Migrante Partylist first nominee Garry Martinez said in a statement.
“OFWs all over the world are in grief and collective rage over this incident,” he added.
The 49-year-old OFW, whose identity is withheld, was found dead at dawn of Feb. 29 in his workplace in Riyadh, Labor attaché Restituto dela Fuente said in reports. He added that while the OFW’s co-workers said this was a case of an apparent suicide, the Saudi police has yet to release the results of its investigation.
In an Arab News report, his co-workers said the OFW expressed that he was going “crazy” due because their salary has been delayed several months. His iqama or residency permit has also expired.
Saudi has been scaling down its infrastructure projects and imposing various austerity measures since its $100 billion budget deficit in 2015, resulting from the crisis in the oil industry, which fuels 90 percent of its public funds. The crisis has affected thousands of OFWs as Saudi remains as top destination for Filipinos leaving to work abroad.
Migrante Partylist and its chapter in Saudi earlier warned that at least 50,000 OFWs in the industrial and construction industries would be affected, such as those employed by the country’s biggest contractors, Saudi Oger Ltd. and Bin Laden Co.
But the migrant rights group said the Philippine government has been belittling the crisis and even reportedly accused them of “exaggerating” the predicament of the OFWs.
“Instead of downplaying, they should acknowledge the gravity of the situation and address it head-on,” Martinez said.
Martinez said they are currently reaching out to the OFW’s family to ensure that they will receive due assistance not just from the Saudi employer but from the Philippine government as well.