GMA WELCOMES HOME OFWs FREED FROM SAUDI JAILS
MANILA, June 7, 2006 (MALACANANG) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo welcomed today 49 female overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who had been imprisoned for various minor offenses in Saudi Arabia.
The new batch of returning OFWs was part of the more than 700 Filipinos released from jail by the King of Saudi Arabia during the President’s state visit to the kingdom recently.
The President met the OFWs at the old Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) upon their arrival on board Gulf Air Flight 154 from Bahrain.
She said the safe return of the OFWs is part of the celebration of the Migrant Workers’ Day today.
"Paraan ng pagdiriwang ng Migrant Workers’ Day today ang inyong ligtas na pag-uwi sa inyong tahanan. (This is part of our celebration of Migrant Workers Day today). Welcome back to the Philippines," the President said.
The Chief Executive thanked the King of Saudi Arabia, through Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines Mohammed Ameen Wali, for the freedom and safe return of the imprisoned OFWs to the country.
"Thanks to the benevolence of His Majesty, the King of Saudi Arabia, and we thank them very much for their kindness and support," she said.
The President directed Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Marianito Roque to ensure the safe return of the OFWs to their respective families here. Roque, she said, will return to Saudi Arabia next week to arrange the repatriation of the next batch of OFWs.
Of the 49 OFWs, 21 came from various prisons in Saudi Arabia while 28 were from the OWWA Bahay Kalinga center in the kingdom.
Roque said about 600 imprisoned OFWs have been repatriated since negotiations started in February upon the instruction of the President.
He said the latest arrival is the sixth batch since February and the third since the President arrived from her state visit to the kingdom.
Roque said the OWWA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) have been spending an average of P10 to P15 million a year for the repatriation of OFWs from abroad.
Also at the NAIA, the President announced the appointment of Ambassador Antonio Villamor as the country’s new representative to Saudi Arabia.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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