Stranded OFW dies in Saudi 'Tent City'
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (UPDATED) - One of the undocumented overseas Filipino workers staying at the so-called Tent City while waiting for his repatriation suffered an asthma attack and died.
The fatality was identified as Louie Bandojo Belista, 41, a native of San Antonio North, Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya.
"Wala po kaming tubig, walang pagkain, wala pong gamot at marami na po ang nagkakasakit dito. Noong nakaraang araw po ay meron kaming kasama na binawian ng buhay at sana hindi po kami matulad ng nangyari sa kanya," said Justiniano Felias Jr. referring to Belista.
Belista first suffered an asthma attack in July and he was brought to the Dr. Erfan Bagedo Hospital. However, he wasn't lucky the second time around.
He was among the thousands of stranded OFWs who are hoping to be repatriated before the deadline of the amnesty period ends on November 3.
"Ang malungkot po diyan ay hindi ho lahat, at may ilan po diyan sa Tent City ay hindi covered ng amnesty. Sapagkat mayroon silang mga violations na hindi naman po takas bago April 6, ay hindi na po covered ng sinasabing amnesty at kailangan po dumaan sa normal na proseso kaya hindi po sila agad makakauwi," explained Consul General Norman Garibay.
Belista was also among the medical volunteers who assist stranded OFWs like him in the Tent City while waiting for their exit visas.
"Syempre, nalulungkot at nabigla nga kami sa pagkawala niya. Siya ay matulungin dito kung may mga medical mission nandiyan siya," said Vilma Aviles.
Garibay said they continue to coordinate with Saudi Arabian authorities and appealed to them to expedite the issuance of exit visas of stranded OFWs.
The stranded OFWs are worried as the November 3 deadline approaches due to the turtle-paced processing of travel documents and repatriation of stranded OFWs by the Consulate.
"Tinatanong po natin ang mga awtoridad dito sa Saudi Arabia, na pagka-hindi sila mabigyan ng exit visa bago mag-Nov. 3 gusto ko pong alamin sa kanila kung ano ang mangyayari. Naghihintay po tayo ng kasagutan diyan," explained Garibay.
The consulate is likewise waiting for the reply of Saudi Arabia on what will happen to OFWs who have yet to get their exit visas before the deadline expires.
"Naghihintay po tayo ng kasagutan diyan," he said.
But even if the deadline expires, Garibay assured stranded OFWs that the consulate will still continue to assist them until they are all repatriated to the Philippines.
"Patuloy po kaming tutulong sa inyo at susubukan po namin hanggang sa abot ng aming makakaya na kayo po ay makakauwi," he said. Report from Frank Resma, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau correspondent