651 Filipinos from Middle East arrive Friday; PGMA leads welcoming at NAIA

April 22, 2010 7:23 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, April 22 — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday said 651 distressed Filipino workers in the Middle East are scheduled to fly into Manila on Friday afternoon, with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo personally welcoming them at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

They were sheltered at the Filipino Workers Resource Center in Saudi Arabia, a Philippine government-run emergency facility while contingency arrangements for their repatriation to the Philippines were being prepared, including their plane tickets.

The DFA said that majority of Friday’s arrivals worked and lived in Saudi Arabia, the bulk of 302 in Jeddah, 150 in Riyadh, 60 in Abu Dhabi, 50 in Dubai, and 26 in Al-Khobar. The rest worked in Jordan (49) and Bahrain (14). They are coming in three separate flights .

The DFA said it is one of the more recent mass repatriations, conceived and made a reality through joint efforts of the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary of Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) and its various missions in the Middle East, the Department of Labor and Employment and its line agencies such as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) who expedited documents and other consular requirements.

Most of their plane fares was funded by the Development Bank of the Philippines, the Landbank, Pag-ibig Fund, the San Miguel Corporation, and the First Metro Pacific, according to DFA.

During the Holy Week. the DFA facilitated the repatriation of 113 Filipinos from Jeddah and Qatar.

The President will be joined by DFA-OUMWA officials, including Executive Director Enrico Foz, and OWWA. (PNA) <br>DCT/GJB

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