Jinggoy: 20 distressed OFWs from Dubai returning home Monday

TWENTY distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Dubai, United Arab Emirates are coming home on Monday, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said.

Estrada, in a statement, said he paid for the airfare of the 20 household workers who ran away from their employers after they were subjected to overwork, physical and verbal abuse, and other forms of maltreatment.

They are: Mary Chell Afable, Lariza Arceo, Janet Bentero, Jonnalyn Belmosao, Rowena Carao, Anabel Cortez, Maida Esmael, Sittie Mariam Gudal, Cherry Lyn Larosa, Mary Joy Mangad, Nerissa Molleda, Jelleny Morabe, Maria Malaya Padilla, Diana Lou Publico, Maria Leni Regino, Noraida Sambutuan, Bariya Lipai Sawaldi, Michelle Torio, Angelina Uyammi, and Clarence Viscarra.

All of them are expected to arrive in Manila on Monday, October 29, 4 o’clock pm via Emirates airlines, with Sen. Estrada.

Estrada learned of the cases of distressed migrant workers awaiting repatriation in Dubai from Ambassador Grace Princesa as he made a stopover to the Philippine Consulate-General in UAE, before heading to Vatican City to attend the canonization rites of the second Filipino saint, San Pedro Calungsod.

“As per Labor Attache Delmer Cruz, an estimated 1,000 Filipino migrant workers abscond from their visa sponsors (also employers) every year. And almost every day there is a new case of maltreatment, especially of our household service workers,” Estrada, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, lamented.

Common complaints include overwork, physical abuse, lack of food and rest, and unpaid salary. 90% of the complaints received by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) come from domestic workers.

The runaway OFWs seek temporary shelter in the facilities of the POLO, as the embassy and labor officials arrange their travel and employment documents and negotiate with their respective employers to allow them either to work elsewhere or to go back to the Philippines. The process could take up months depending on the cooperation of the employers and nature of their case.

For instance, Lariza Arceo, 29 years old from Parañaque City, was admitted to the Migrant Workers and other Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFWRC) last August 5.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) shows that UAE ranks second to Saudi Arabia in terms of number of land-based new hires and rehires. In 2010, there are 201,214 land-based workers deployed to UAE.

UAE, which ranks third next to Hong Kong and Kuwait in terms of number of deployed household service workers, is host to 13,184 Filipino household service workers.

“Domestic workers are really the most vulnerable sector of our labor force to abuse and exploitation, here or abroad. Many OFWs, about a hundred of them, are still waiting for repatriation there pending the release and approval of their papers. I urge the administration to further intensify its efforts to assist the OFWs in distress and ensure their safety and protection,”  Estrada said.


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