15 repatriated OFWs arrive in Manila

FIFTEEN Filipino OFWs from Lebanon arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Sunday morning aboard the Qatar Airways.

The OFWs, all women, have complained of maltreatment and abuse from their employers and of unpaid salaries and unreasonably long working hours.

The OFWs stayed at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC). The youngest among the repatriated OFWs was 21 years old.

There is an existing labor deployment ban to Lebanon.

The government issued the ban to Lebanon in 2006. The Philippine Embassy in Beirut is currently negotiating a bilateral labor cooperation agreement with the Lebanese government to ensure protection of the welfare of Filipino workers. Some stipulations being negotiated include the minimum wage, reasonable rest periods and
decent working and living conditions for the Filipino workers.

On hand to welcome and extend assistance to the OFWs were Department of Foreign Affairs Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) Special Assistant Atty. Enrico Fos, DFA-OUMWA Legal Officer Sorhaya Dilabakun, Atty. Emily Villanueva and Mustapha Bayanan.

Also present were Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Director Allan Ignacio and Welfare Officer Hector Cruz.

Lebanese Honorary Consul to the Philippines Joseph F. Assad was likewise present to welcome the OFWs at the airport.

The DFA shouldered the airline tickets of the OFWs through the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) fund.

The OFWs were provided by the Embassy with food, toiletries, medical provisions and appropriate assistance while waiting for their exit documents to be processed and for their expedited repatriation.

There are already a total of 74 repatriated OFWs from Lebanon this year. The first batch of repatriated OFWs from Lebanon arrived last Jan. 13.

The DFA is working closely with the Philippine Embassies and Consulates General around the world in facilitating the immediate repatriation of distressed overseas Filipino workers. Johnny F. Arasga

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