06/17/2011 | 08:53 PM Migrante International, a militant migrant workers’ group, has challenged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to explain why as of June 5, only 27 Filipinos have been repatriated from the strife-torn Yemen.
On June 6, DFA officials raised the crisis alert status in Yemen to Level 4, giving the embassy in Yemen authority to stage mandatory evacuation and repatriation of Filipinos following the escalation of political tensions in the cities of Sana'a and Aden.
Migrante chairman Garry Martinez said 53 Filipino workers should have returned from Yemen on June 7 and 9.
“Based on [its] output, the government still seems to be having a hard time in [its] evacuation and repatriation efforts. Mas maliit na ang bilang na ito, kung tutuusin mas madali na dapat na ma-locate at ma-evacuate and mga kababayan natin," Martinez said.
GMA News Online tried contacting DFA spokesperson Ed Malaya for comment but he was not answering his phone as of this posting.
Martinez said the DFA should make clear its plans for irregular or undocumented workers. “The DFA should also look into reports that undocumented workers in Yemen are not in possession of their passports," he said.
The Migrante leader said they have been receiving reports some OFWs want to be repatriated but they have surrendered their passports to their employers upon arrival in Yemen.
The Commission on Overseas Filipinos estimates that as of 2009, there are at least 2,330 Filipinos in Yemen. Thirty are permanent residents, 2,000 are temporary workers, and around 300 are irregular or undocumented workers. — Jesse Edep/ELR/VS, GMA News