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
85 OFWs duped by recruiters return from Lebanon