Distressed Saudi OFWs scour garbage looking for food

TEN distressed Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) went through the garbage hoping that they could look for food or something that is edible to feed their hungry stomach, according to a Filipino migrants rights group, Migrante-Middle East (M-ME).

“On the past, we have documented distressed OFWs hunting lizard in the dessert, ‘selling’ blood, and those who were forced to go through the garbage looking for something to eat, and these became a usual thing as usual of having inept embassy and labor officials when confronted would only reason out ‘that’s the prevailing system and we could not do something about it’,” an admission of their own uselessness,” M-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona lamented.

Monterona cited anew OFWs-scouring-garbage incident in Saudi Arabia, which his group had documented. .

“We came to know that 10 OFWs working for a local establishment in Al-Khobar, eastern part of Saudi Arabia, had stopped working since July of this year over labor malpractices,” Monterona citing report from Migrante officials in Al-Khobar.

His group identified the 10 distressed OFWs, namely: Bonifacio Bayubay, Perlito T. Garcia, Marlon K. Ciervo, John Ryan C. Lupega, Ronie M. Villegas, Demetrio Galia, Rodel B. Lonsame, Percival S. Bibat Jr., Wilfred C. Elbanol, and Jonathan S. Querido, all were deployed by PH-based recruitment agency YHMD International Manpower Services, which latest known address is Ground Floor, Gedisco Center, #1564 A. Mabini St., Ermita, Manila.

The OFWs were hired as construction workers and some equipment operator/technician by Ali-Fahad Al Huraish Establishment, a contracting company, which main office is in Al-Hasa, Saudi Arabia.

The OFWs had sought the assistance of PH labor attaché Adam Musa to file a case against their employer as they complain contract substitution, illegal salary deduction, salary downgrading, no sick leave, no medical insurance, delayed payment of salary, driving without official driver’s license, non-payment of overtime work, working more than 8-hour  a day, poor accommodation, no bathroom and no drinking water.

“Labor Attache Musa, after several case dialogues, is convincing the OFWs to go back to their work and forget their complaints,” Monterona citing the OFWs during conversation with Migrante officers.

The 10 distressed OFWs, however, stood by their decision to stop working as they look forward to filing a case at Saudi labor court against their employer, which Labor attaché Musa is not acting upon.

“This is gross negligence on the part of Labor Attache Musa. It is his foremost duty to provide whatever assistance the distress OFWs need such as guiding them, including documentation, in filing labor case versus their employer,” Monterona adding, “Musa should render his resignation or he should be recalled by DoLE secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.”

On a related incident, seventeen (17) OFWs working for Al-Naseeb Establishment also in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia threatened to stage hunger strike to protest what they call ‘PH officials inaction’ and ‘no assistance’ provided to them. The OFWs stop working since May 2012 over labor malpractices.

Due to increasing incident of labor cases involving OFWs in Saudi Arabia, Monterona calls on Pres. Aquino to act swiftly on these OFWs cases.

“We are calling the attention of Pres. Aquino, who seems to be very busy endorsing administration’s senatorial candidates, to instruct his labor honchos to attend on the distressed OFWs in Saudi Arabia. We also call on Vice President Jojomar Binay to intervene on OFWs cases in his capacity as presidential adviser on OFWs concerns,” Monterona added.

“PNoy has been in office for more than 2 years and he failed to present his administration’s blue print to solve the country’s forced migration among the millions of unemployed and underemployed. Per POEA records, there are around 4,200 Filipinos per day leaving the country to work and look for jobs abroad,” Monterona noted.

The OFW leader also lambasted Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, chair of the Congressional special Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA), who seems too reluctant to call for an investigation on numerous cases of labor malpractices and abuses involving OFWs.

“Walden Bello should not be in Congress, in the first place. Neither he nor his Akbayan party belongs to the so called marginalized and underrepresented sectors having them opportunistically established an Aquino-Akbayan power-duo,” Monterona said.

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