MANILA, Philippines?Forty-six female overseas Filipino workers who used to live under a bridge in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, arrived in Manila Wednesday afternoon after being repatriated by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
The OFWs arrived at 4 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport aboard Brunei Airways flight BI-082. They were earlier processed for deportation at Hajj Terminal in Jeddah.
OWWA staff from the agency?s Repatriation Assistance Division met the OFWs to process their documents and render assistance.
Some of the workers arrived with their children, numbering 19, mostly infants, bringing to 65 passengers the number of repatriated Filipinos.
Those who had no means to go home to their respective provinces were given temporary lodging at the OWWA Halfway House in Pasay City. OWWA members were given transportation assistance so they could proceed to their provinces.
OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon, in a statement, said the OWWA paid for both plane fares and penalties incurred by the OFWs for breach of immigration rules. The plane tickets of the children, on the other hand, were paid for by their respective parents.
Many of the workers had left their work places in various parts of Saudi Arabia due to various problems and difficulties, she said.
After leaving their jobs, instead of approaching the Philippine Embassy or the Philippine Overseas Labor Office for assistance, they made their way to Khandara Overpass, where they stayed with other foreigners, such as Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indians, who were in similar circumstances and aimed to catch the attention of local authorities to be deported to their respective countries.
President Macapagal-Arroyo earlier instructed Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, OWWA and the Philippine embassy in Saudi Arabia to expedite the processing of the distressed workers' papers.
The OFW alliance Migrante Middle-East said at least 49 more Filipinos are detained at the Hajj deportation center. The inmates are asking the Philippine government to take advantage of the next month?s Eid ul-Adha holiday to intercede with the Saudis so that they can get back home by Christmas.