Press Release
16 August 2009

OFW group’s safe house for distress workers raided by Police; Migrante-ME
working for their release

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’
organizations based in the Middle East today confirmed that one of its
pioneering member-organization, the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS) safe
house was raided by the Saudi Police last Friday, 14th August, 2009.

“We confirm that the safe house of KGS, a member organization of Migrante,
where distress and run away OFWs are temporarily seeking refuge was raided
by the local police last Friday at about 3:00 p.m.,” said John Leonard
Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Monterona said KGS was conducting its regular weekly case dialogs and
counseling to OFW victims of maltreatment and abuses who ran away from their employers.

Monterona said ten (10) of its officers and member, and 3 service workers
have been sent to Bahdiya Police Station in Riyadh for investigation. While
the (5) distress OFW women were brought to Malaz Jail.

“KGS Officers and members have been giving advises to run away and distress OFWs before they will be formally endorse to POLO-OWWA as part of its rights and welfare assistance program (RWAP),” Monterona added.

Monterona said KGS with a long running tradition of helping and providing
assistance to abused and maltreated OFWs since its founding way back 1980 has members and officers committed to provide assistance to distress and runaway OFWs that it can’t simply turn its back to abused and maltreated OFWs
seeking its help despite restrictions imposed by the host country.

“KGS and Migrante chapters in the Middle East continuously extend assistance to abused and maltreated OFWs because we need to, because daily we have been receiving an average of 5 cases, because there is no protection on their
well-being, rights and welfare; this is the call of the time –to provide
help to the thousands of abused and maltreated OFWs,” Monterona added.

Monterona said one of its leaders had already been released yesterday
evening as the group was able to prove to the apprehending Police that it is
a legitimate OFW organization providing assistance to distress OFWs.

“We are closely coordinating with our Embassy Officials for the release of
other KGS officers and members as well as those apprehended distress OFWs,” Monterona confirmed.

“We would like to make it clear that we fully understand the implications of
“harboring absconders” that’s why we have made arrangement like having
temporary safe houses for ran away and distress OFWs until we formally
endorse them to POLO-OWWA for their appropriate action, because POLO-OWWA
and our RP posts can’t attend these numerous cases, a reason for us to do
our discrete share helping our fellow OFWs especially abused and maltreated
who have run away from their employers,” Monterona explained.

Monterona said even POLO-OWWA offices maintain their own safe houses for distress and run away OFWs.

Monterona said it is high time for the RP government to pro-actively do its
part and not to set aside the need to have a more comprehensive approach to rights and welfare cases involving abused and maltreated run away OFWs in
agreement with the host government.

“Keeping in mind that distress and run away OFWs are victims here, not
criminals,” Monterona ended.

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012