Philippine bishop urges help for migrants in Saudi Arabia

Slump in oil prices has led to many Filipinos losing their jobs in the Middle East

July 22, 2016
A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has called on the government to come up with measures to help Filipino migrant workers who are losing their jobs in Saudi Arabia.

"While the ideal is not have our countrymen go abroad to earn a living, our government should ensure their rights and well-being in foreign countries," said Bishop Ruberto Santos of Balanga.

The prelate, who heads the bishops' Episcopal Commission on Migrant and Itinerant People, wished Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello "success in his mission" as the minister left for Saudi Arabia on July 21 to look into the condition of migrant workers there.

For the first time since 2009, Saudi Arabia is facing a budget deficit after oil prices slumped from US$100 per barrel to $30 per barrel this year.

Affected Filipino migrant workers and their families have been appealing to the Philippine government for help.

Migrante, an alliance of Filipino migrant groups, urged the government to negotiate with Saudi employers for the immediate payment of salaries and benefits, and to issue exit visas for workers who have lost their jobs.

Migrante spokesman, Gary Martinez, said the Philippines should launch an "emergency mass repatriation" for stranded workers and pay the workers' immigration penalties.

He also urged the government to ban the deployment of workers to crisis-hit companies in Saudi Arabia.


Members of Migrante, an alliance of Filipino migrant groups, call on the government for assistance of workers in Saudi Arabia. (Photo courtesy of Migrante)

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