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OFWs call for post-arrival orientation.

Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr. & Abdul Hannan Tago | Arab News <p>RIYADH: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo met the Filipino community at the Habitat Hotel on Monday night and discussed issues affecting Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in western Saudi Arabia.

The major point discussed was the proposal seeking a post-arrival orientation for overseas Filipino workers in the Kingdom.

"The KASAPI Congress (an OWF support group) presented a proposal that, instead of the pre-departure orientation being given in the Philippines to departing housemaids and family drivers, a post-arrival orientation in the Kingdom should be conducted for all domestic helpers, family drivers and other OFWs," Jauhari G. Usman, adviser of the KASAPI Congress, told Arab News.

He said under the proposal all OFWs, regardless of professions, would report to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) office at the Philippine Consulate before they are released to their respective employers.

"Before releasing the workers, the OWWA will also take note of the location of their work so that it can verify from time to time their work conditions and also review their contracts," he added.

Usman said he hoped that Labor Secretary Marianito D. Roque could negotiate the proposal and have it approved by the Kingdom through his local counterpart, Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi.

Earlier on Monday, Arroyo and her delegation held talks with key officials of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed by Abdul Qader Al-Fadel and discussed ways to strengthen trade ties between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, according to Paisal D. Abdullah, the Philippine trade representative based in Jeddah.

Meanwhile, the United Bangsaranao Council (UBC), an umbrella organization of 32 civic and sports associations of Filipino Muslims, reacted strongly against the Philippine bid for observer status at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Ali Nasser Radiamoda, overall chairman, said OFWs have generally benefited from Arroyo's visit in terms of upholding their rights but it should not be at the expense of the Muslims' status at the OIC. "This is silencing, so to speak, the centuries of sacrifices of Muslims in Mindanao who have been campaigning for independence," he said.

Albani Maungco, UBC founder and former chairman, told Arab News: "This is a political issue which is deeply related to the future of Bangsamoro in the Philippines."

The UBC last year called for an immediate cease-fire in Mindanao after the displacement of 600,000 people due to "the fighting between the military and Muslim freedom fighters."

Meanwhile, sources told Arab News that six Filipino students had been admitted to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Arroyo arrived in the Kingdom to attend the university's formal opening on Wednesday.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Sep 24, 2009
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