67 distressed OFWs from Kuwait fly home

2:43 PM

By Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at 06/07/2010 8:14 PM | Updated as of 06/07/2010 8:18 PM

KUWAIT - Sixty-seven distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWS) were repatriated to the Philippines at 3:30 am on Monday (8:30 am Manila time). This is the first batch of a series of mass repatriation of stranded OFWs in Kuwait.

Philippine Ambassador Ricardo Endaya, Labor Attache Vivo Vidal and Welfare Officer Yolanda Penaranda along with other embassy officials were at the Kuwaiti airport to see the OFWs off.

Most of the distressed OFWs worked as household service workers who were victims of nonpayment of salaries, fatigue, lack of food, physical, verbal and sexual abuse prompting them to escape from their employers and seek refuge at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC).

Emma Cabila, 27, who hails from Iloilo City, cannot contain her excitement at the prospect of going home. Just like the rest of the group, she vowed not to come back to Kuwait anymore.

“Iyan ang hinding- hindi ko na gagawin sa buhay ko. Pwede naman tayong mabuhay sa Pilipinas, pero yung bumalik sa Arab country, di ko na po gagawin yon,” aired Cabila who suffered physical maltreatment in the hands of her employer’s kids.

As the group entered the Emirates check-in counter, some of them waved with glee and shouted in chorus: “Ang saya-saya, uuwi na kami, salamat!”

Ambassador Endaya disclosed that the airfare of all the repatriated Filipinos was shouldered by the Kuwaiti government as a result of the collaboration and strong ties between the Philippine Embassy and theKuwait Ministry of Interior.

“We hope to get the full cooperation of the Kuwaiti government, para pondohan ang ganitong repatriation tulad ngayong umalis na itong 67, sila ang nagbayad ng ticket. Hindi na dumaan sa talha (deportation center) diretso na mula embahada patungong airport. We hope na sana ang ang ganitong sistema ay magpapatuloy para ma-irepatriate natin ang lahat ng stranded na housemaids sa ating embahada,” pointed out Endaya.

Currently, there are still 170 distressed OFWs temporarily housed at the FWRC who are awaiting repatriation. Endaya disclosed to the ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau that with the full cooperation of the Kuwait Ministry of Interior, they hope to repatriate everyone before the end of June.

Meanwhile, the 67 distressed OFWs accompanied by Welfare Officer Marnie Halanes are set to arrive inManila at 10:30 Monday night on board Emirates flight number 334.

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