ANTIPOLO City, Dec. 8, 2010â€”Migrantsâ€™ workers watchdog, Migrante-Middle East (Migrante-ME) pleads the government to send more welfare officers in the region as the number of distressed and runaway overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) increases.
Migrante-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona, in an email said, that there is huge gap between the serving officers in the Philippine welfare offices in Mid-East, and the clients they are serving.
â€œDaily, weâ€™re receiving about 10 welfare cases, which would translate, if the number will not change, to 300 to 310 per month. What is saddening, in Saudi alone, we have only four (4) welfare officers working in the OWWA (Overseas Workersâ€™ Welfare Administration) office in Riyadh, and six (6) interpreters. This means that each officer must review, analyze and solve, 75 cases a month; that is be very tasking,â€ Monterona explained to CBCPNews.
Monterona revealed that there are about 500,000 OFWs working in Saudi Arabia and if to ratio the number of OWWA officers against the half-a-million Pinoys and Pinays working in Saudi that would be 1:125,000.
The migrant leader said that bulk of the cases that their assistance desk is reviewing and assisting comes from the cities and provinces in the Saudiâ€™s central region. This includes Riyadh, the capital of Saudi; Buraydah; Gassim; and Hall City.
â€œIn the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia covering Dammam, Al Khobar, Al-Hasa, and Jubail, there are about 350,000 OFWs, and yet there is only 1 welfare officer deployed by OWWA, providing support to him are 2 administrative staff and 4 local hire interpreters,â€ Monterona disclosed.
Moreover, there is also a need for Sharia law experts as many of the cases are now being appealed in different courts in the region.
â€œThe lack of staff attending welfare cases from POLO-OWWA and the Assistance to the Nationals section of the PHL embassy in Saudi Arabia in relation to the huge numbers of OFWs deployed compromises the rights of OFWs especially distress and those abused and maltreated, and many landed in jail,â€ Monterona added. (Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews)