ANTIPOLO CITY, December 27, 2010—Seventy-year old Lola Irene Sto. Domingo has been working in the Mid-east since 1984. Poverty has pushed her to leave Sta. Cruz, Manila and go to Saudi to work as household help. However, she run away from her employer and has been an illegal alien in the oil-rich Kingdom.
Now she’s sick and wants to go home to be with her family that she has not hugged from many years and to get treatment. However, what’s saddening, she has not received any help from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.
According to Eric Jocson, chairperson of Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS), they have already sent a word to the Philippine officials there about Lola Irene’s request for medical and other assistance but they have not received a clear answer from them. Even Migrante Middle-East (MME) regional coordinator John Monterona has sent a formal letter to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration, but he too, not received a reply.
“We have received a report that Lola Irene is not extended any help because she’s undocumented,” laments Monterona.
It was Marcelina Calimag, a fellow OFW, who is taking care of Lola Irene.
“But Ms. Calimag is afraid that she get caught by her employer who owns the dress shop that she’s working with. Harboring absconders is a serious crime, here in Saudi,” Monterona said in his email.
As of this writing, Jocson told this reporter that he got a chance to talk with Labor Attaché Albert Valencia and told him about Lola Irene. The former, says Jocson, had promised to give assistance immediately to the ailing grandma.
Nevertheless, the alleged dilly-dallying of embassy officials was assailed by the two migrant leaders.
“For humanitarian consideration, the Philippine offices here must not hesitate to extend assistance to Lola Irene. For God sake! She’s 70 years old and very sick. She can barely walk and talk,” the migrant leader said.
“If they (the Philippine officials in Riyadh) can’t perform their duties, they must resign. We don’t need them. All we need is those officials who can respond to the needs of OFWs and not those who don’t care for the bagong bayanis,” he said. (Noel Sales Barcelona)