Groups score gov’t for inaction on plight of OFWs

January 31, 2009

01/15/2009 | 06:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Members of Kilusang Mayo Uno and Migrante International on Thursday picketed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to protest the government’s alleged inaction on the plight of retrenched overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

QTV’s “Balitanghali” reported that the groups, together with some OFWs who lost their jobs in Taiwan, demanded that the government give back the alleged exorbitant fees that recruitment agencies charged them.

“We condemn the continued government inaction to our demands,” Crisitina de Borja, a retrenched worker, said. “At the minimum we demand that the exorbitant placement fees recruitment agencies have charged will be given back to us. This is the law and we cannot understand why the government cannot enforce it.”

In the same statement, Migrante chairman Garry Martinez criticized the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) for allegedly tolerating recruitment agencies that collect overprized placement fees, insisting that the money be given back to those who left their jobs.

“Let me make it clear that up to this very moment, not a single cent was given to the OFWs,” he said. “This proves that government has literally no contingency plan for OFWs whatsoever in response to the global financial crisis.”

The other demands of the laid-off workers include the payment of the unexpired portion of their contracts and the full payment of their repatriation from Taiwan.

“We want to hear directly from Secretary [Marianito] Roque why [the] government’s promises have all been empty so far,” De Borja said in a statement. “With the way the government has been neglecting us, we feel that we have truly been victimized not only by the recruiters, by our companies, but also by our government.”

GMA reporter James Velasquez also quoted the protesters as saying that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was a “liar” for reportedly taking back the check she gave the retrenched Filipino workers from Taiwan on Dec. 2.

“We are already fed up with promises made by DOLE and the Arroyo administration,” Martinez said.

Secretary Roque later met with Migrante representatives to discuss the issues raised. – Kimberly Jane Tan, GMANews.TV

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Migrante celebrates victory of Sentosa nurses

January 31, 2009

D’JAY LAZARO, GMANews.TV
01/31/2009 | 05:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines — Migrante International, together with the relatives and friends of the nurses tagged as the Sentosa 27++, celebrated the legal victory of the ten nurses and one lawyer acquitted from the criminal charges filed against them by SentosaCare LLC in New York.

The nurses, former employees of Avalon Gardens in Woodmere, New York, were charged with patient endangerment by SentosaCare after they resigned from their posts in 2006 due to unpaid back wages, discrimination and being recruited under false pretenses.

The lawyer they went to for advice was charged with criminal solicitation.

Earlier this year, an appeals court cleared them of the charges, which it said violated the nurses’ 13th Amendment rights that protect against “involuntary servitude.”

In the case of the lawyer. the court said to “potentially inflict punishment for the good faith provision of legal advice is, in our view, more than a First Amendment violation. It is an assault on the adversarial system of justice.”

The nurses contended they left work at the end of their shifts and that no patient was ever in danger.

One, Maria Theresa Ramos, told The Associated Press she stayed four hours past the scheduled end of her shift to ensure that the patients received proper care.

Gina Gaborni, Migrante’s deputy secretary general, said: “This victory is, indeed, a vindication for the nurses.

“This is a glimmer of hope for migrant workers who are up against an unscrupulous giant such as SentosaCare.”

The nurses are part of the group called Sentosa 27++, all health workers recruited in the Philippines by the SRA.

They signed contracts with specific agencies only to find out, once in the States, that they were farmed out to agencies different from the ones they had an agreement with. When they resigned, they were charged with breach of contract by SentosaCare LLC.

The nurses fought back and filed illegal recruitment cases against SRA at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POE), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Justice.

Initially, the POEA found grounds to temporarily suspend Sentosa but after then Cabinet member Mike Defensor intervened in behalf of SRA, the suspension order was cancelled and subsequent cases were dismissed.

“This is a clear case of illegal recruitment, or human trafficking and government once again proved the interests they serve are not the interests of migrant workers,” Gaborni said. ” How ironic that we are taking heart from the justice system of a foreign country rather than from our own government.”

But Gaborni said the fight will continue. “The Sentosa Recruitment Agency must be shut down!” she said.

In early 2007, Nafcon launched a community-led campaign called “Justice for the Sentosa 27++.”

The 10 Avalon nurses along with more than 17 others, all health workers recruited from the same agency in the Philippines, had found themselves collectively duped by SentosaCare LLC for signing false contracts whose tenets were not honored once they migrated to the United States .

Essentially trafficked, the 26 nurses and one physical therapist were instead farmed out to a number of SentosaCare-owned nursing facilities throughout the New York area. When each found themselves under similar conditions as the 10 nurses of Avalon Gardens, they resigned and now each have civil case charges of breach of contract by SentosaCare LLC. – GMANews.TV and < AP

===

‘Sentosa verdict places RP probes in question’
KIMBERLY JANE T. TAN, GMANews.TV

01/17/2009 | 02:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino-American lawyer on Saturday urged the Philippine bodies that ruled against the so-called Sentosa nurses to review their respective processes in view of a US court ruling on a related case.

Lawyer Salvador Tuy, one of the counsels who successfully defended the Filipino nurses in the case filed by American firm Sentosa Recruitment Agency in New York, said it was unbelievable that the very agencies that were supposed to protect the welfare of Filipino workers were unable to see the merits of the case.

Tuy said he was referring to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) as well as the Philippine Department of Justice and the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), which all ruled against the nurses in their complaints against Sentosa in 2006.

During that year, the nurses complained to the POEA that Sentosa failed to fulfill its commitment to let them work in specific nursing homes in the US. They said that upon their arrival in New York, they found out that they were made to work for an employment agency and received less than what was stipulated in their contracts.

When their complaints were ignored, 55 nurses resigned from the Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in April 2006, after which many of them returned to work in the fear of paying a $25,000-fine to SRA.

Ten of the nurses, however, fought on and ended up being charged in court for endangering their patients by quitting their jobs.

Last January 13, a New York court deemed the 10 nurses not guilty as charged, saying they were “threatened with prosecution for crimes for which they cannot constitutionally be tried.”

The nurses involved in the case were Elmer Jacinto, Juliet Anilao, Harriet Avila, Mark de la Cruz, Claudine Gamiao, Jennifer Lampa, Rizza Maulion, James Millena, Ma. Theresa Ramos, and Ranier Sichon, and their lawyer, Felix Vinluan. –

Blind or pressured?

Lawyer Tuy said the New York court ruling seemed to show that there was something wrong with the way Philippine agencies were handling cases involving powerful groups.

He said what the US court’s decision was saying is that “the act of resignation is not punishable because they cannot compel you to work for the employer under the voluntary servitude law.”

“Why is it that the US court saw this pero hindi ito nakita ng POEA? Bakit hindi nila makita na dito violation yan, violation ng Philippine law and yet the conclusion is not the same?” he asked, noting that the ruling was not from an ordinary US court but from an appellate court.

“[Y]ou know, the decision of the POEA on the same facts, then the decision of the Secretary of Labor basically based on the same facts, I just cannot see how they cannot see what is plain,” said Tuy.

“Under POEA law, hindi kayo pwedeng magpalit ng employer without the consent of the nurses, ‘yun ang namiss ng POEA (Under POEA law, you cannot change employers without the consent of the nurses, that’s what the POEA missed),” he added.

When De Castro asked whether Philippine probers were pressured, Tuy said it was no secret that a powerful US senator intervened on behalf of Sentosa.

He added that although the nurses have been acquitted of the criminal charges, they still have a pending civil case against SRA for bridge of contract, for which Tuy said they will have a trial conference on January 22.

Meanwhile, Tuy warned aspiring overseas Filipino workers not to trust manpower agencies like Sentosa.

“What I want to point out to those applying to Sentosa, open your eyes,” he said. – GMANews.TV

==


Pananaw tungkol sa Nigeria travel ban

January 24, 2009

Ambag na pananaw ni Pastor Billy, a.k.a. ang Carlo Magno ng Lekki, halaw sa baul po daw ng Mga Kwentong Lasing Part 3.

Hindi mayaman ang OFW

We have this notion na ‘pag OFW o nasa abroad ay mayaman na. Hindi totoo yun. A regular OFW might earn from P50K-P300K per month depende sa lokasyon. Yung mga taga Australia, Canada, Kazakstan or US siguro ay mas malaki ang sweldo, lalo na daw mga taga Nigeria but to say that they’re rich is a fallacy (amen!).

Malaki ang pangangailangan kaya karamihan ay nag-a-abroad.  Maraming bunganga ang kailangang pakainin kaya umaalis ang mga pipol sa Pilipinas. Madalas, 3/4 o kalahati ng sweldo ay napupunta sa tuition ng anak at gastusin ng pamilya.

Mahirap maging OFW –

Kailangan magtipid hangga’t kaya. Oo, masarap ang pagkain sa abroad pero madalas na paksiw o adobo at itlog lang tinitira para makaipon. Pagdating ng kinsenas o katapusan, ang unang tinitingnan eh ang conversion ng Peso sa Dollar o Euro o Rial o Naira. Mas okay na magtiis sa konti kaysa gutumin ang pamilya. Kapag umuuwi, kailangan may baon kahit konti kasi maraming kamag-anak ang sumusundo sa airport o naghihintay sa probinsya. Alam mo naman ‘pag Pinoy, yung tsismis na OFW ka eh surely attracts a lot of kin.

Kapag hindi mo nabigyan ng pasalubong eh magtatampo na yun at sisiraan ka na. Well, hindi naman lahat pero I’m sure sa mga OFW dito eh may mga pangyayaring ganun. Magtatrabaho ka sa bansang iba ang tingin sa mga Pinoy. Malamang marami ang naka-experience ng gulang o discrimination to their various workplaces. Sige lang, tiis lang, iniiyak na lang kasi kawawa naman pamilya pag umuwi.

Besides, wala ka naman talagang maasahang trabaho sa Philippines ngayon.Mahal ang bigas, ang gatas, ang sardinas, ang upa sa apartment. Tiis lang kahit maraming kupal sa trabaho, kahit may sakit at walang nag-aalaga,kahit hindi masarap ang tsibog, kahit pangit ang working conditions, kahit delikado, kahit mahirap. Kapag nakapadala ka na, okay na, tawag lang, “hello! kumusta na kayo?”.

Hindi bato ang OFW –

Tao rin ang OFW, hindi money o cash machine. Napapagod rin, nalulungkot (madalas),nagkakasakit, nag-iisip at nagugutom. Nakukulong pa nga. Naaakusahan pang mga magnana kawkaw pa minsan. Kailangan din ang suporta ng taga Embassy, kundi man physically, emotionally o spiritually man lang.

Tumatanda rin ang OFW –

Sa mga nakausap at nakita ko, marami ang panot at kalbo na. Most of them have signs and symptoms of hypertension, coronary artery disease and arthritis. Yet, they continue to work thinking about the family they left behind. Marami ang nasa abroad, 20-30 years na, pero wala pa ring ipon. Kahit anong pakahirap, sablay pa rin. Masakit pa kung olats rin ang sinusuportahang pamilya ? ang anak adik o nabuntis; ang asawa may kabit. Naalala ko tuloy ang sikat na kanta dati, “NAPAKASAKIT  KUYA EDDIE!”

Bayani ang OFW ?

Totoo yun! Ngayon ko lang na na-realize na bayani ang OFW sa maraming bagay. Hindi bayani na tulad ni Nora Aunor o Flor Contemplacion. Bayani in the truest sense of the word. Hindi katulad ni Rizal o Bonifacio. Mas higit pa dun, mas maraming giyera at gulo ang pinapasok ng OFW para lang mabuhay. Mas maraming pulitika ang kailangang suungin para lang tumagal sa trabaho lalo na’t kupal ang mga kasama sa trabaho. Mas mahaba ang pasensya kaysa sa mga ordinaryong Tongresista o  Sinador sa Pilipinas dahil sa takot na mawalan ng trabaho at lalo na po, dahil sa pasado kami sa psychotest.

Matindi ang OFW ?

Matindi ang Pinoy. Lalo na daw ang mga Naija Pinoy. Matindi pa sa daga, o cockroaches  which survived the cataclysmic evolution. Alang sinabi iyang Malarya, ang Kidnapping, Armed Robber sa Inay Gyera, Armed Robbers sa Eh May Grasya NAIA. Sisiw lang mga iyan. Maraming sakripisyo pero walang makitang tangible solutions or consequences na ginagawa ang OWWA/POEA/DOLE at DFA.

Malas ng OFW, swerte ng pulitiko ?

Lalo na si Money Bilyar. Hindi umuupo ang OFW para magbigay ng autograph o interbyuhin ng media (unless nakidnap!). Madalas nasa sidelines lang ang OFW. Kapag umaalis, malungkot and on the verge of tears. Kapag dumadating, swerte ‘pag may sundo( madalas meron). Kapag naubos na ang ipon, wala ng kamag-anak.

Sana sikat ang OFW para may boses sa Kamara. Ang swerte ng mga politiko nakaupo sila at ginagastusan ng pera ng Filipino. Hindi nga sila naiinitan o napapaso ng langis, o napagagalitan ng amo, o kumakain ng paksiw para makatipid, o nakatira sa compound with conditions less than favorable, o nakikisama sa ibang lahi para mabuhay. Ang swerte, sobrang  swerte nila.

Matatag ang OFW ?

Matatag ang OFW, mas matatag pa sa sundalo ni Hingalo Reyes o kung ano pang grupo na alam nyo. Magaling sa reverse psychology, negotiations at counter-attacks. Tatagal ba ang OFW? Tatagal pa kasi hindi pa natin alam kailan magbabago ang Philippines , kailan nga kaya? o may tsansa pa ba? Paano na iyan Ate Galo, magsalita ka naman, “Hindi na akow kakandi datung, mandada yaak!!!, magna naku!!! Ahh ewan, basta “I Am Sorry” pero di Worry.

Masarap isipin na kasama mo ang pamilya mo araw-araw. Nakikita mo mga anak mong lumalaki at naaalagaan ng maayos. Masarap kumain ng sitaw, ng bagoong, lechon, inihaw na isda, taba ng talangka. Masarap manood ng pelikulang Pinoy, luma man o bago. Iba pa rin ang pakiramdam kung kilala mo ang kapitbahay mo. Iba pa rin sa Philippines, iba pa rin kapag Pinoy  ang kasama mo (except ‘pag kupal at utak-talangka), iba pa rin ‘pag nagkukwento ka at naiintindihan ng iba ang sinasabi mo. Iba pa rin ang tunog ng “mahal kita!”, “day, ginahigugma tika.” “Mingaw na ko nimo ba,  kalagot!”, ” Inday, diin ka na subong haw? ganahan guid ko simo ba”. Iba pa rin talaga.

Kaya Ang Hinayupak Na Travel Ban Na Yan….Alisin Na!!!

Sige lang, tiis lang, saan ba’t darating din ang pag-asa.

—-

Mula sa panulat nina Kuya Fred Borbon at Kapatid na Carlo Magno

(siempre, may pahintulot)

Jan 24, 2009


Mag ingat sa mga taong ito…

January 23, 2009

Singaporean, Pinoy pals face human trafficking, illegal recruitment raps

01/22/2009 | 06:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines — A Singaporean and two of his Filipino partners are facing charges of illegal recruitment and trafficking of persons.

Charged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were Roland Chii Ming Teo, 62, a Singaporean residing at the Pan Pacific Hotel on Adriatico St. in Ermita, Manila; Liwayway Capistrano, 57, and Lanie Acaso, 36, both of Palmera Homes in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

Head Agent Arnel Dalumpines, chief of NBI-Special Task Force (STF), said the trio were arrested late Tuesday in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, while they were in the process of recruiting several would-be OFWs.

A fourth suspect, Maria Josefina Villanueva, registered owner of PEN Travel and Tours Philippines based in Pasay City, is still being hunted.

Follow up operations are also being conducted against several other suspects identified only as Homer, Jenny, both staff members of Pentravel Tours Phils., and an immigration officer named Glazy.

Recruitment process

Dalumpines said the arrests stemmed from the complaint of Herminia Servillon and Eleanor Valenzuela, who both formerly worked in Singapore as domestic helpers.

In their complaint, Servillon and Valenzuela said they were recruited by Capistrano and Acaso in 2007 to work as directly hired domestic helpers in Singapore for a monthly salary of 360 Singaporean dollars.

They were promised fast deployment and no initial fee but with six months salary deduction.

They said they were personally interviewed by Teo in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and on Sept. 22 and Nov. 3, 2007, they were brought by their agents to the office of Pen Travel and Tours in Pasay City.

They said a man named Homer and a woman named Jenny briefed them on what they were going to do inside the Centennial Airport Terminal on the day of their departure. With the alleged connivance with immigration officer identified only as Glazy, the duo managed to leave for Singapore as tourists.

Abused and starved

When they reached Singapore, they were met by an agent who assigned them to work as domestic helpers.

Immediately after they started working, their troubles also began. They were given not enough food, forced to work longer working hours, and were bit paid their salaries for six months. After enduring six months of suffering in Singapore, they returned to the Philippines and filed a complaint with the NBI.

In their investigation, NBI probers found that Teo and his cohorts were not licensed to recruit workers for overseas employment.

Through constant monitoring and surveillance, NBI managed to document the illegal activities of the suspects.

According to Special Investigator Darwin Francisco, they noted that Pen Travel Tours Inc. used a Hyundai Wagon (ZJD-406) in transporting trafficked persons to the airport on Jan. 19, 2009.

They also received information that Teo, Capistrano and Acaso will recruit and conduct interview on applicants on the house of Acaso in San del Monte, Bulacan on Tuesday..

At 5 p.m. of that day, NBI agents swooped down on the suspects as they were interviewing applicant Roche Teves and job seekers were filling out application forms for employment of Roland Employment Agency.

The suspects were brought to the Department of Justice on Wednesday for inquest for charges for violation of the Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act of 2003 and Syndicated Illegal Recruitment, both non-bailable offenses. – GMANews.TV


Migrants advocacy group alarmed over new OFW deployment policy

January 23, 2009

MARK JOSEPH H. UBALDE, GMANews.TV
01/23/2009 | 06:29 PM
MANILA, Philippines — A group of cause-oriented groups for overseas Filipino workers has expressed concern over the government’s new policy to aggressively market Filipinos for jobs abroad.

The Philippine Migrants Watch (PMRW) said the new policy is embodied in Administrative Order No. 247, which orders the Cabinet to support the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) “so it can aggressively deploy” Filipinos without much “institutional hurdles.”

Such a policy “is tantamount to promoting migration as economic tool,” said Ellene Sana, executive director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy and a member of PMRW.

The alliance said the added function of the POEA is against the government’s policy of non-dependence on OFW deployment as a solution to save the economy.

The Philippine government’s policy under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 on overseas labor says that overseas employment should not be promoted by the government.

“While recognizing the significant contribution of Filipino migrant workers…the State does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development,” reads RA 8042’s declaration of policies.

Sana, who is a member of the PMRW, fears that the regulatory function of the POEA would be set aside to make room for the aggressive marketing of OFWs in other countries.

“AO 247 is a written and explicit evidence that (the government is) dependent on OFW remittances,” Sana said.

The POEA, which is under the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment, was created in 1982 by Executive Order No. 797 and is mandated to regulate the overseas employment industry, facilitate the employment of aspiring OFWs and protect their rights. (See other core functions in this link)

PMRW added that AO 247 is also against PGMA’s previously backed policy of strengthening the regulatory function of the POEA.

According to the group, the President’s instruction was contrary to the “intent and spirit” of Republic Act 9422 which strengthens the regulatory functions of the POEA thereby repealing Sections 29 and 30 of RA 8042 on deregulation.

“The President was with us in this campaign which took 11 years before RA9422 was finally enacted in 2006. She certified this bill as urgent in the 12th and 13th Congress but now, she is setting it aside in favor of aggressive marketing of our people overseas,” PMRW said.

The signing of AO 247 came on the heels of the global financial crisis, which economists fear would result to the economic recession and more retrenchments for Filipinos in the country and abroad.

The $15-billion annual remittance from OFWs is tagged as the lifeblood of the Philippine economy, boosting the country’s dollar reserves. The global economic crisis has threatened the jobs of thousands of Filipinos employed in export-dependent countries like Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, which have felt the brunt of the US-led crisis.

“Is this the way for government to respond to the global economic meltdown?” PMRW asked in a statement, “Should we not be doing the paradigm shift by veering away now from an economic dictum that is quite dependent on external markets?”

Recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani, however, told GMANews.TV that the government simply has to admit that it cannot survive without the OFWs’ contributions.

Geslani said that RA 8042 should be reconciled in order to justify the new mandate of the POEA.

Despite the new policy, Geslani believes the POEA would not give up its task to protect Filipinos in securing jobs abroad. – GMANews.TV


Gordon asks gov’t to save jailed sailors

January 16, 2009

By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: January 16, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Richard Gordon has castigated the government for allegedly failing to rescue 13 Filipino crew members of a Greek-owned oil tanker who were arrested by the Nigerian government on suspicion of stealing thousands of tons of crude oil and have been languishing in jail since November.

Gordon said he would like the Department of Foreign Affairs to say what really happened in the case of the 13 seamen and whether they have been provided with legal representation in the Nigerian court.

“The government should be doing the necessary actions to help them,” he said, as he called on the DFA, the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to look into the cases of the jailed Filipino seamen.
He called on the POEA to cancel the license of Seagem, the local manning agent of the Greek ship owner Maritime Management Synergy, “which is suspected to have dealings with rebel groups in the Niger Delta.”

He identified the 13 seafarers as Erwin Antas, Ronie Fabricante, Celso Zapanta, Pedro Germentiza, Marcelo Galola, George Balore, Ruel Dosdos, Arjay Alvarez, Rolan Rao, Richard Peniano, Celso Baez, Reagan and Sebastian Teodosio.

The Filipino crewmen were arrested in their vessel, the Akuada, by the Nigerian Navy for allegedly conducting illegal oil transport operations at the behest of the ship’s Greek owner. Nine of the ship’s 22 Filipino crewmen were able to escape.

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/news/view/20090116-183696/Gordon-asks-govt-to-save-jailed-sailors

Related Stories:

Four Seamen of True Courage

N-Delta: The foreign connection in oil theft


Don’t go to Lebanon, ‘runaways’ warn aspiring OFWs

January 11, 2009

KIMBERLY JANE T. TAN, GMANews.TV
01/10/2009 | 06:50 PM
MANILA, Philippines – Three Filipino women who sought work in Lebanon despite a ban are urging others who aspiring to go there not to do so.

The trio aired their appeal on Vice President Noli de Castro’s radio program on Saturday, a day after arriving from Lebanon.

They were among 85 distressed OFWs who sought shelter from the shelter inside the Philippine Embassy in Beirut.

“To all Filipinos planning to go to Lebanon, please don’t go through with it because the people there are demons. Many are raped, some even go crazy,” one of the distressed OFWs, Marilyn Valencia of Nueva Vizcaya province, said in Filipino.

Unaware of the deployment ban on Lebanon, she said that she went to the Mideastern country in September by taking a connecting flight from Hong Kong to Qatar, thinking that she would be employed either as a beautician or a domestic helper who with a salary of at least $200, or almost P10,000, a month.

“Akala po namin magaganda ang magiging trabaho po namin dun [I thought good jobs were awaiting us there],” she said during the interview.

However, she said that her first employer did not pay her, always yelled at her, and rarely fed her.

She said she was then after passed on from one employer to another until she got sick for almost two weeks. When she got a little better, she was again assigned to another employer, prompting her to escape.

“Tumakas na po ako kasi nahihirapan po ako [I escaped because I couldn’t take it anymore],” said Valencia.

OFW Merlita Benito from Isabela province said her experience in Lebanon was very unpleasant.

“Nagtrabaho ho ako na parang kalabaw [I worked like a carabao],” she said.

In addition, Benito said her employer also rarely fed her and often hit her, forcing her to run away when she got the chance.

Likewise, 25-year-old Filipina worker Lizelle Diozon, who did not mention her province, said she was forced to seek refuge at the embassy because her Lebanese employer hit her after the family she was working for accused her of stealing money.

“Sabi ko kahit ipapulis nila ako, wala akong kinuha. Ang ginawa nila sa akin sinaktan nila ako [I told them even if they hand me over to the police, they’ll know that I didn’t steal anything. What they did was they hit me],” she said.

According to Diozon, her recruiter promised her a $250 monthly salary, but this was not granted.

On illegal recruiters

Valencia minced no words as she called the attention of illegal recruiters to be bothered by their conscience for duping many aspiring OFWs .

“Be bothered by the things you do to your fellow Filipinos,” she said. “They are pitiful. They are working to pay you. You take the applicants’ money even though you have no idea what awaits them wherever you deploy them abroad.”

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr., who was in the same radio program, said job seekers shouldn’t easily trust recruiters who make promises without openness.

“It’s really difficult when you’re an illegal recruit, really difficult,” Conejos said. “Besides, there’s a ban in Lebanon so the almost 30,000 OFWs in Lebanon are all potential problems.”

He said if only these Filipina workers had gone through the legal process set by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), they would now be earning $400, or almost P20,000, a month.

“It’s important that you go through the legal process,” he said. “You will be more protected. Don’t put your life at stake.There are legal ways.”

One advantage of going through the proper channels is that the POEA can go after their recruiter and their employer abroad.

Meanwhile, De Castro told the repatriated runaway Filipina workers to take part in the programs offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

“We will help you if you want to go abroad again or if you just want to train, we will pay for your training then you can apply again,” he said. – GMANews.TV

Related News:
85 OFWs duped by recruiters return from Lebanon