Hundreds of OFWs 'excluded' from Manila to Riyadh flight due to Saudi travel suspension


Posted at May 28 2021 01:59 PM | Updated as of May 28 2021 02:17 PM

Hundreds of OFWs 'excluded' from Manila to Riyadh flight due to Saudi travel suspension 1
Stranded passengers line up at the NAIA T1 lobby to claim their checked-in luggage and have their contact details recorded by POEA representatives. Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – Philippine Airlines said Friday it did not receive any official advice from the government about the temporary OFW deployment suspension to Saudi Arabia which resulted in non-acceptance of passengers on the flight to Riyadh.

About 282 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) of flight PR5654 from Manila bound for Riyadh were “excluded” from the flight, PAL said in a statement. 

“In the absence of any official directive, the check-in process was carried out by our Airport team at NAIA T1. However, the Bureau of Immigration’s non-acceptance of our OFW passengers led to their exclusion from the flight,” the flag carrier said.

“We have been left out with no other choice but to accept the unfortunate circumstances,” it added.

PAL said it is still waiting for the official directive from the Philippine government. 

The said Riyadh flight departed at 11 a.m. without passengers to service scheduled passengers of PR5755 from Riyadh to Manila, it added.

A memorandum signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III dated May 27, ordered the temporary suspension of the deployment of OFWs to Saudi Arabia effective immediately.

The memo noted that according to reports some employers and agencies were requiring OFWs to shoulder costs of health and safety protocol upon entry to the country. 

Workers who have spoken to ABS-CBN News, meanwhile, feared that their failure to return to Saudi Arabia could lead to termination.


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- with reports from Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News