24 January 2008
Philippine Labor Secretary is misinformed, detached from real OFWs miserable situation in the Middle East – Migrante
“Philippine Labor Sec. Arturo Brion is misinformed & detached from the real overseas Filipino’s miserable situation in the Middle East,” John Monterona, Migrante Middle East Regional Coordinator said in reaction to a recent statement by Philippine Labor Secretary Arturo Brion during the recently concluded 4th Ministerial Consultations on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labor for Countries of Origin and Destination in Asia held in Abu Dhabi on Jan 21-22.
“Brion is essentially lying and grandstanding when he said that “the Arroyo Government scored high in its efforts to stop exploitation & promote the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers in the Middle East,” Monterona asserts.
“The truth is, the Arroyo government is driving Filipinos abroad to be victim of abuse, maltreatment & neglect in its intensification of the labor export program to milk more dollar remittances at the expense of OFW’s sweat & blood,” Monterona added.
Monterona advised Sec. Brion further to “look deeply into the logbooks of numerous cases of complaints from OFW victims filed in different Philippine Embassies, Philippine Labor & Welfare Offices before concluding that the Arroyo government is stopping and promoting overseas workers’ welfare.”
Records show that Migrante chapters from all over Middle East Region receive complaints and requests for assistance numbering to a minimum of 15 cases a day. This is aside from the number of complaints our Migrante National Office is receiving from family members of overseas Filipinos back in the Philippines.
Monterona disclosed that amongst the cases Migrante chapters received are cases of contract substitution, over-charging of fees, maltreatment & employer’s abuses to include sexual advances, unfair labor practices such as no overtime work fees, and no free-day for domestic helpers, among others.
Migrante, an international alliance of Overseas Filipinos & their families, is in the forefront of protecting and promoting OFW rights & welfare since its inception year 1989. Just recently, Migrante campaigned for the release of Marilou Ranario who was sentenced to death by Kuwaiti Court and put pressure to Arroyo government and held it accountable if OFW Ranario will be hanged due to government neglect.
Sharing the burden of training OFWs
“Sec. Brion is dreaming when it calls on host governments and employers from host countries to share with the Philippines part of the burden in the training and education of our OFWs,” thus said A.M. Ociones, Migrante-Saudi Arabia Chairperson, in a related statement.
“Ano sya sinuswerte? Do you think host governments & employers would be willing to spent huge amount of money for the education & trainings of OFWs? Host governments & employers will wisely invest for their own labor force education & trainings as per their “Saudization” Program; hiring Saudi nationals for their own local job market as in the case of Saudi Arabia,” Ociones avers.
It was known that Middle Eastern Countries especially those members of the so called “GCC” such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, & Bahrain are gradually implementing a policy of hiring their own nationals as part of their local employment strengthening & capability-building program.
Ratify UN Convention on Migrants
“Instead, the Arroyo Government should spearhead a move calling all Host Governments in the Middle East to ratify the United Nations Convention for the Protection of Migrant Workers & Members of their Families & to willingly spend money conducting trainings & education of the host Governments & employers about respect for Migrant Rights & Welfare,” Ociones, added.
The United Nations Conventions on the Protection of Migrant Workers & Members of their Families came into force last March 14, 2003 after 20 countries have ratified the said international instrument as a component of respect for Human Rights.
The Philippines is one of the 20-country signatories & ratified the said international instrument.
“Sad to say, no Middle Eastern Governments have ratified & signed the UN Conventions on the Protection of Migrant Workers. Thus, it is no surprise that Middle Eastern Governments & employers have little or no concern about respect to migrant rights”, said Mario Ben, Migrante Coordinator in Riyadh also in KSA.
Nhel Morona, Migrante-Dubai Spokesperson said: “Educating host governments & employers of host countries about respect for Migrant Workers rights & welfare will certainly lessen cases of maltreatment, unfair labor practices, & sexual advances against our overseas workers. That’s the Arroyo government should be doing; not to systematically market our skilled workers for a low-paid jobs without a clear blueprint for our migrant’s safety & protection to be concluded between the Philippines & Host Government”.
“Lastly, it is our foremost view that a Philippine economy geared towards Nationalization of Industries & sincere implementation of Agrarian Reform program as the righteous economic policy that can generate decent jobs locally which can employ our Filipino Professionals & skilled workers & not anymore be victims of low wages, maltreatment & exploitation & other labor malpractices in a foreign country. ”, Morona ended.
John Monterona, Migrante Middle-East Regional Coordinator,
Tel. No.:+966 564 978 012
A. M. Ociones, Migrante-Saudi Arabia Chairperson,
Tel. No.:+966 566 793 202
Nhel Morona, Migrante-UAE Secretary General,
Tel. No.: +971 504 238 851
Mario Ben, Migrante-Riyadh Coordinator,
Tel. No: +966 565 745 214