Some Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) were barred from entering Dammam, Saudi Arabia over fears of the fast-spreading novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Instead, they were sent back to the Philippines.
According to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, he was able to communicate with some of the affected OFWs as they are said to have been stopped from entering Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
In a statement of one of the OFW, they were allowed to leave the Philippines by the Bureau of Immigration and they were also able to secure a clearance to travel to Saudi Arabia. However, when they arrived at Dammam airport, they were forced to return to the Philippines.
Andanar said that Saudi Arabia must put a clear line when it comes to their position of implementing a travel ban due to COVID-19. The Saudi Embassy in the Philippines must be clear their regulations for Filipinos entering Saudi Arabia in the midst of COVID-19.
“Mayroon akong nakausap na mga OFW, pinauwi sila –papunta ng Dammam, tapos pinauwi sila. Ang tanong nila ”bakit kami pinauwi eh binigyan naman kami ng clearance ng Immigration, nakabiyahe kami”,pero pagdating sa Dammam ay pinabalik sila.Pagod na pagod na raw sila. So, they just wanted to know kung ano ba yung sitwasyon. Mayroon bang travel ban doon sa Saudi?,” says Andanar.
Andanar also heard that even Congressman Benny Abante was not able to enter Saudi Arabia despite presenting a diplomatic passport.
“Even si Congressman Benny Abante ng Maynila ay hindirinnakapasok ng Saudi .Kumbaganaka-diolomatic passport nasiyaperohindipinapasokdahilsa COVID-19. Siguromagandakung ma-clarify yan ng embassy ng Saudi ssgobyerno ng Pilipinas,”Andanar added.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration said that they were not able to receive any reports regarding the return of OFWs who were not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia.
“Wala pa po kaming na-receive na official communication, wala pa po kaming nakukuha. Siguroposamgasusunodnaaraw, there will be more clarifications po with regards to this matter,” says Bureau of Immigration Spokesman Dana Sandoval.