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Philippine Bishop Urges Help For Migrants In Saudi Arabia

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A Catholic bishop in the Philippines has called on the government to come up with measures to help Filipino migrant workers who are losing their jobs in Saudi Arabia.

“While the ideal is not have our countrymen go abroad to earn a living, our government should ensure their rights and well-being in foreign countries,” said Bishop Ruberto Santos of Balanga.

The prelate, who heads the bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Migrant and Itinerant People, wished Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello “success in his mission” as the minister left for Saudi Arabia on July 21 to look into the condition of migrant workers there.

For the first time since 2009, Saudi Arabia is facing a budget deficit after oil prices slumped from US$100 per barrel to $30 per barrel this year.

Affected Filipino migrant workers and their families have been appealing to the Philippine government for help.

Migrante, an alliance of Filipino migrant groups, urged the government to negotiate with Saudi employers for the immediate payment of salaries and benefits, and to issue exit visas for workers who have lost their jobs.

Migrante spokesman, Gary Martinez, said the Philippines should launch an “emergency mass repatriation” for stranded workers and pay the workers’ immigration penalties.

He also urged the government to ban the deployment of workers to crisis-hit companies in Saudi Arabia.

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The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

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