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

January 11, 2009

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


MIGRANTE: : Illegal deployment of Filipinos to Lebanon continues

May 16, 2008

By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: May 15, 2008

MANILA, Philippines — An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East called on the government Thursday to intensify their monitoring against recruitment agencies that have been sending OFWs to Lebanon despite the deployment ban imposed by the government.

Migrante-Middle East said an official of the Filipino-Lebanese Friendship Association based in Lebanon claimed that around 5,000 Filipino domestic helpers have entered the eastern Mediterranean country since the Israel-Lebanon conflict in 2006 ended.

“Like in Iraq, despite deployment ban imposed by the Arroyo administration, we are wondering why there are still a considerable numbers of OFWs that have been sent to work as domestic helpers in Lebanon where a civil war is now escalating,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East’s Saudi Arabia-based regional coordinator, said in a statement sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He urged the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to intensify its monitoring drive against recruitment agencies that were continuously sending OFWs in Lebanon and Iraq, where there was heavy internal conflict.

“The Arroyo administration and POEA should seriously prosecute recruitment agencies violating the deployment ban in Lebanon and Iraq to ensure that our fellow OFWs and aspiring alike will not be sent to war-torn Iraq and Lebanon,” Monterona added.

Reports indicated that violence has been escalating in Lebanon due to infighting of two warring Muslim factions, the Shiite and Sunni groups. Monterona said that based on Migrante’s monitoring, the unrest may escalate in the coming days.

An estimated 50 people have already been killed due to heavy fighting between United States-backed Lebanon government army and militia Hezbollah group that ensued when the former opted a policy of disarming the latter.

Early this week, Lebanon’s pro-government and opposition factions reached a deal to revoke the two decisions that sparked the fighting. On the same day, the opposition ended its civil disobedience campaign.

Monterona said the outbreak of hostilities put the lives of OFWs in Lebanon at great risks, referring to the estimated 25,000 OFWs there who were mostly domestic helpers.

During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, most Lebanese employers just left their domestic helpers and were even locked inside their employer’s houses, Monterona recalled.

“That time Lebanese are swiftly fleeing and securing only themselves and members of their families, leaving behind our fellow OFWs at their employer’s houses, thus putting OFW lives at great risks at time when heavy bombs are pouring like rain,” Monterona said.

The ongoing conflict has seen many Lebanese citizens evacuating to Cyprus amid the fighting.

Monterona said the issuance of advisory from the Philippine government to OFWs in Lebanon to keep off the streets and just follow their employer’s instruction would not be enough, he added, as he called for a “pro-active plan” to ensure the safety and security of all OFWs in Lebanon.

He said that Philippine officials in Lebanon should make themselves and their offices available and that they should try to get in touch with OFWs by having available telephone hotlines in time.

Two years ago, over 6,000 Filipino workers were evacuated and repatriated from Lebanon following the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Many were repatriated through the help of the International Organization for Migration.