Group wants probe of DFA’s alleged neglect of OFW

A migrants group based in the Middle East calls on the House Congressional Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) of the House of Representatives and the Senate Labor committee to investigate the Department of Foreign Affairs’ alleged neglect of overseas Filipino worker “Clarissa.”

“We are calling on the head and members of the House committee on Overseas Workers Welfare Affairs (COWA) and the Senate committee on Labor to investigate this unfortunate incident of criminal neglect to OFW Clarissa by the DFA and the PH embassy officials in Riyadh,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said the statement issued by OFW Clarissa during interview is quite revealing and alarming if all OFWs have to be treated like what she has been by the DFA and PH embassy officials. ‘Clarissa’ claimed that she was never assisted and given proper assistance by the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia

Monterona said Clarissa stood by her statement that “she was raped and that Philippine embassy officials in Riyadh not only refused to believe her, but also tricked her.”

“Sabi nila mas madali akong mapapauwi kapag umamin ako (They said I could get home sooner if I confessed to the crime). Gulong- gulo ako noon at gusto ko na talagang makauwi matapos ang nangyari sa akin, kaya um-oo na lang ako sa lahat ng sinabi nila (I was very confused and just wanted to go home after what had happened to me, so I agreed to everything they said.”

Monterona also said that they won’t buy the explanation provided by the DFA and the PH embassy that it provided legal assistance to OFW Clarissa. Today’s statement issued by the DFA said there were Embassy representatives present during case hearings.

“We would like to remind our DFA and Embassy officials that when we say ‘legal representation’ it is not just mere presence of staff in court but the opportunity to present evidences, argue and defend OFW Clarissa during case hearings only a hired local lawyer can do, but again the DFA-PH embassy did not hire a lawyer for her,” Monterona averred.

Monterona said how could the PH embassy officials protect the rights of OFW Clarissa when in the first placed they are convincing her (which the Embassy succeeded) to accept the crime of adultery so that she could be immediately repatriated.

Monterona said in pursuit of providing efficient and genuine service to OFWs abroad especially in the Middle East where there are numerous cases of abuses and maltreatment, the Congress must conduct an investigation in aid of legislation including the crafting of a law that would criminalize neglect by PH officials abroad.

Migrante-ME points out the DFA’s case officer handling the case of OFW Clarissa, the PH embassy Assistance to the Nationals section (ANS) officials and the POLO official in Al-Khobar must be summoned in the Congressional and Senate hearings.

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