dfa-banner.jpgCountries in the Middle East with huge concentration of Filipino workers have become the Philippines’ “dumping grounds for inept and irresponsible” government officials, a militant migrants’ group leader based in Hong Kong said on Wednesday.

Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-Migrante-HK), considered the Middle East as a “welfare disaster zone” for Filipino migrant workers who had been abused and whose rights have been violated.

She cited the alleged indifference of embassy and consulate officials on the cases of more than 100 run away Filipinos who have been stranded for months in Jeddah and about 50 workers of a company in Kuwait who have resorted to eating spoiled food and scrounging in trash bins for items they can sell to raise money for food.

“With irresponsible officials, a joke of a welfare program, and consulates and embassies that never understood genuine service, OFWs in the Middle East are in a calamity situation whenever they seek help from the Philippine government,” Balladares said.

She criticized the ‘legal deportation process’ that Consul General Ezzedin Tago in Jeddah pushed as a way of repatriating OFWs.

“Such scheme is but legal murder for OFWs who were forced to come back to abusive employers or were imprisoned. With the situation that these returned OFWs face – lack of food, inhuman accommodation, abusive working conditions – the Philippine government practically signed their death warrants with this sham process,” Balladares said.

The distressed workers in Kuwait, she said, were left by Philippine embassy officials to fend for themselves while their cases against their employers are pending.

migksa_logo2.jpg“It is reprehensible for these things to happen in the region were services are sorely needed. While OFWs in other countries also suffer from the same fate, these concrete cases of neglect and irresponsibility in KSA and Kuwait should be immediately addressed,” Balladares said.

The government, she said, “must exert extra effort to provide sufficient services to migrant workers in the area.”

Data from the POEA show that the Middle East accounts for 67.5 percent of new hires and 52.8 percent of rehires deployed in 2006.
Balladares lamented that Philippine government officials “are more concerned with how they can improve income generation from OFWs while also evade responsibility for those with problems.”
“Despite their harsh conditions, our fellow OFWs are prepared to fight for their right. We, OFWs in other countries, stand in support of our fellow migrants in the Middle East to pressure the Philippine government to act and address their issues in particular and that of Filipino workers around the world in general,” Balladares vowed. – GMANews.TV

——————-

Ambassador to Saudi tells OFWs not to help troubled Pinoys

By Delfin Mallari Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: February 29, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio Villamor has advised overseas Filipino workers to stop helping compatriots who are fleeing from their employers.

In a letter dated Feb. 23 and addressed to Filipino community organizations in Saudi Arabia, Villamor said the Philippine Embassy understood that Filipinos could not resist the call for help of a kababayan.

“However, as guest workers in the kingdom, we are not only expected but are also obliged to follow and respect the local laws and regulations being enforced by Saudi authorities,” said Villamor.

“It includes the responsibility of not giving refuge to a worker who absconded from his employer.”

Villamor said the offense was considered serious under Saudi Arabian laws and carries a penalty of imprisonment, lashes and excessive fines if one is found guilty.

mideast_ofw_victim.jpgA copy of Villamor’s letter was sent by e-mail to the Inquirer on Tuesday by the Alpha Phi Omega Alumni Association in Saudi Arabia.

The ambassador noted an increasing number of arrests of Filipinos who ran afoul with Saudi laws, “particularly those who are helping/and or harboring stranded and runaway female workers.”

He cited the recent case of one Alberto Guanzon, an employee of Saudi Public Transport Co. and president of “Kasangga ng OFW,” a Filipino community organization based in Al-Khobar.

Villamor said Guanzon was arrested by Saudi police on Feb. 13 with a Filipina runaway worker aboard his borrowed car.

Guanzon claimed that he was only acting as a Good Samaritan to the Filipina in distress and was about to turn her to police authorities when he was arrested.

He said the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo), in cooperation with Guanzon’s employer, persuaded the Saudi authorities to release the kind Filipino worker.

The runaway has been placed in the custody of the Al-Khobar police and was later endorsed to the Saudi Social Welfare Agency in Dammam, Villamor said.

==========================

Illegal deployment of OFWs in Middle East rising

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The government expressed alarm yesterday over the rising number of illegally deployed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Jordan and other Middle East countries.

Quoting Labor Attaché to Amman, Jordan Henry Parel, Labor and Employment Secretary Arturo Brion said about 180 of the 236 OFWs who have sought refuge at the Bahay Kalinga in Amman last month were undocumented.

Brion said most of the workers who ran away from their employers were household service workers (HSW).

middle-east-ofws.jpgOf the 225 household workers staying at Bahay Kalinga as of December, 170 were undocumented, he added.

Brion said the government has suspended the deployment of workers to Jordan because of the rising number of distressed Filipino workers in that country.

“The suspension means that no OFW is allowed to work in Jordan as an HSW,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brion warned Filipino workers against dealing with agencies offering assistance to those looking for jobs in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates without any employment contract.

“Undocumented workers are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation since there are no contracts to bind their employers with responsibilities and corresponding liabilities that usually go with legitimate employment contracts,” he said.

Overseas employment has prevented the country’s unemployment from soaring by at least 50 percent, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said yesterday.

TUCP spokesman Alex Aguilar said 1,073,402 Filipino workers were deployed abroad in 2007 and about the same number the previous year. – Mayen Jaymalin

==========

DoLE warns OFWs anew vs going abroad sans work visas

By Margaux Ortiz
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: February 25, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Monday warned prospective overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from seeking job opportunities abroad without working visas to prevent possible abuse by their foreign employers.

stop_illegal_recruitment.gifLabor Secretary Arturo Brion issued the warning following a report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Amman, Jordan that a majority of distressed OFWs who temporarily took refuge at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) there had been illegally hired.

Citing the report from labor attaché to Amman Henry Parel, Brion said that about 180 of the 236 OFWs who sought refuge at the FWRC in January this year were undocumented.

Brion, who issued an order suspending the deployment of Filipinos to Jordan last month, added that the runaways were mostly household service workers (HSWs).

“The suspension should warn OFWs not to be enticed to work as HSWs in Jordan by unscrupulous individuals and agencies without the acquisition of proper documents such as job contracts and work visas,” Brion said.

Brion also warned Filipino workers from dealing with agencies offering assistance to those looking for jobs in the Middle East without the necessary employment contracts.

He said workers seeking employment with only tourist visas abroad are putting themselves at great risk, even in top destinations like Dubai.

“I appeal once again to workers to check first with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration the existence of job orders in Dubai and other places abroad for any offer they may get from agencies and not to leave the country without proper documents,” he said.

“Undocumented workers are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation since there are no contracts to bind their employers with responsibilities and corresponding liabilities that usually go with legitimate employment contracts,” Brion added.

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3 Responses to “No Comment: ME as ‘dumping ground’ for inept RP officials?”

  1. Don Kishote Says:

    BY BULATLAT
    http://www.bulatlat.com/2008/08/ofw-kuwait-saved-being-raped

    August 4, 2008 – 9:32 p.m.

    A Filipina domestic worker was almost raped by her employer’s son in Kuwait. Her presence of mind and the timely response of her friends and Migrante International saved her from being added to the alarming list of Filipina domestic helpers who are victims of rape and abuse in the Middle East.

    OFW Mary Jane Cabardo, 31 years old, has been working as a domestic helper for a Kuwaiti employer with address at No. 28 Blk. 2, Str. Mubarak, Al-Kaber , Kuwait. She is from General Santos City and was deployed by a recruitment agent in the Philippines, the NON-STOP Agency.

    According to John Leonard Monterona, Migrante ME regional coordinator, Gil Lebria, country coordinator of the Migrante chapter in Kuwait, received an urgent message from Mary Jane via mobile phone at around 12:28 a.m. today.

    According to Mary Jane’s message, at around 10:00 p.m. of August 3, her employer’s began caressing her and making sexual advances. This prompted Mary Jane to run to her room with her employer’s son in pursuit. She managed to lock her room but her employer’s son persisted in trying to enter the room. Sensing her life was in danger, she called her friends who in turn alerted Migrante by forwarding her message to Lebria.

    Lebria then advised Mary Jane to stay in her locked room while he contacted Philippine Embassy and OWWA officials in Kuwait so that she could be rescued immediately from her employer’s house. The victim was hysterical and crying out of fear, Monterona added.

    Mary Jane is now in the custody of the Philippine embassy.

    “We urge Ambassador Endaya to thoroughly investigate this incident. We strongly suggest that they take Mary Jane’s affidavit and assist her in the filling of an appropriate case against her alleged attacker. We would be monitoring and closely observing how Philippine embassy officials would be handling the case in order to ensure that there would be no cover up and that justice would be rendered to Mary Jane,” Monterona said.

    In response to Mary Jane’s request, Migrante International through its chapter in Davao City is currently trying to locate her family in General Santos City. Bulatlat

  2. Don Kishote Says:

    Struggling and Surviving in Kuwait: Another Tale of OFW Woes
    http://www.pinoypress.net/2008/03/09/struggling-and-surviving-in-kuwait-another-tale-of-ofw-woes/

    PUBLISHED ON March 9, 2008 AT 7:13 PM BY AUBREY MAKILAN

    Bulatlat

    They scrounge garbage bins for leftover food and for anything to sell. If they were able raise 100 fils, approximately 37 cents, from selling cans, cartons and anything that they found in the garbage bin, they would be able to buy kubos or Arabian bread for their meal. They pile up debts amounting to KD500 ($1,830 at an exchange rate of KD1=U$3.66) in a sari-sari store (convenience store). And when these were not enough, they even beg for food or money from fellow Filipinos in Kuwait. All these, they had to endure to survive in Kuwait.

    As if these were not enough, two of the 49 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait who have complained of contract violations by their employer have more things to worry about. Jason Baldoza and Arnold Mirando who are just waiting for their unpaid salaries to be able to buy plane tickets for their trip back to the Philippines are worried that they would be left with nothing if they are not able to collect soon. Their Iqama or civil ID expired on March 9 and a penalty of KD 2 ($7.32) would be deducted from their unpaid salaries daily for as long as they stay in Kuwait without a valid contract and Iqama.

    Contract violations

    The 49 OFWs were recruited and deployed to Kuwait by the Great Provider Service Exporters, Inc. Before being deployed to Kuwait, they signed contracts with the Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport Company (KGL). The contract even had the seal of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and was verified by the Philippine labor attaché in Kuwait. But when they arrived in Kuwait, some of them were made to sign a side agreement stating that their employer would be the Gulf Coast Shipping Services Co This was an anomalous agreement that the Philippine labor attaché in Kuwait said was in order and legal.

    As it turned out, all the 49 OFWs were subcontracted by KGL to different employers. While those who were made to sign the side agreement worked with Gulf Coast Shipping Services, others were subcontracted to other companies to work as cleaners, tea boys, security guards and warehousemen, according to the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) and Migrante-Kuwait. Adding to their woes, Gi Estrada, APMM Area Coordinator in Kuwait, said that the salaries of the 49 OFWs were either delayed or were not given at all. Except for nine workers who have been in the company for nine years, majority of the 49 OFWs have been in KGL for a little more than a month to three months.

    Aside from the delays, KGL made several deductions from their KD60 ($219) monthly salaries: KD5 ($18) for transportation, KD5 ($18) for accommodations, KD6 ($21.96) for airfare for 24 months, which was practically for the whole duration of their contract. Thus, their salary amounted to only KD44 ($161.04) a month, even lower by a KD to the monthly wage of a domestic helper in Kuwait. The KD5 for accommodations deducted from them is for a small flea-infested room where 25 OFWs were made to share.

  3. driver99 Says:

    Now that marriage is briefly legal in California, people have been asking me and Tim if we’re getting married. ,

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