By Dennis Jay Santos
Posted date: August 22, 2008
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Majority of the recently repatriated 37 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from Jordan said they were forced to admit crimes because Philippine Embassy officials told them it was the only way they could go home.
“Umamin na lang daw kami, para makauwi na (They told us to just admit it so we could come home),” May Ann Abat, 23, of Davao del Norte, said.
Abat, who left the country to work in Jordan on October 27 last year, arrived at the Davao International Airport here on Thursday and was met by her two sons and her parents.
Abat said after a few months working in Jordan as a domestic helper, her abusive employer, who runs a jewelry shop in Amman, accused her of stealing a diamond.
She said she did not do it but was jailed despite her denial.
After a while, Abat said she and the other OFWs were told by a staffer at the Philippine Embassy in Jordan to “admit the trumped-up charges.”
“The embassy will give us a ticket back home,” Abat recalled what they were told about without identifying who the embassy staffer was.
She said she and the other OFWs were left with no other choice but to admit the crimes falsely imputed to them.
Jenylyn Caro, 24, of North Cotabato, said she was also among those given no other choice.
“Mercy or justice. We were told that if we choose to fight the case in court and deny the charges, our abusive employers will file another false accusation,” Caro said.
She said they were warned that denying the charges would just prolong their stay in jail but admitting them would result in some kind of a pardon.
Bai Lanie Kayao, of Maguindanao province, said she was arrested and jailed after she ran away from an allegedly abusive employer.
Kayao said while in jail, her employer told her she would only be freed if she paid 1,000 Jordanian dinar or about P64,170.
Kayao said she told her employer she had no money and the only way she could pay them was to work for them again.
She said she told them if they let her work again, they would have to spend more money on her.
“So I begged them to let me go instead and send me home,” she said.
Senate President Manny Villar, who arranged the repatriation of the three OFWs, said there could be more than 100 OFWs still locked up in Jordan.
Villar said most of those still in that country also face trumped-up charges.
Villar lamented that while a ban on deployment of OFWs to Jordan remained, many Filipinos seeking work still managed to go there.
He said a bill that would mandate government to help both documented and undocumented OFWs was being crafted now.