Migrante Middle East
April 16, 2008
Disregard to OFWs rights and welfare a main factor in the increasing numbers of OFW victims– Migrante ME
An alliance of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East has said that the Arroyo administration’ s labor export program signifies a complete disregard in upholding and protecting migrant rights and a key factor to increasing numbers of OFW victims in the Middle East .
“The increasing numbers of violations to OFWs’ rights throughout the Middle East and Asia Pacific region should serve a wake up call for the Arroyo administration, which has long been negligent to protecting OFWs rights and welfare,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante ME regional coordinator.
Monterona said there is a need for the Philippine Government to give utmost priority to upholding migrant rights and welfare in lieu of the continuing saga of migrant rights violations in the Middle East and other part of the Asia pacific region.
Migrante has been documenting the numerous cases of runaway and stranded OFWs in Saudi Arabia as well as other countries in the Middle East to include Lebanon, Jordan, and Kuwait who where hundreds of OFWs are in the deportation centers and shelter run by Philippine Embassies and Philippine Consulates, and a hundreds who are also languishing in jails.
Migrante chapters in the Middle East through its Migrant Rights and Welfare Assistance Committee have been receiving calls and emails from distress OFWs in a rate of 3 cases a day.
“To date, we are reaching to almost 500 OFWs in distress and runaways in Saudi Arabia alone, both inside the deportation centers, shelters and in the houses of fellow OFWs to seek refuge as these OFWs are not willing to “surrender” or submit themselves or even ask assistance from Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and Consulate in Jeddah due to fear of returning them to their abusive employers,” Monterona added.
“In Jordan and Lebanon, we are receiving reports direct from OFW-victims inside the shelter managed by the Philippine Embassy that there are almost 200 OFWs, respectively who are there now for more than 3 to 6 months already, while Embassy officials just keep on promising them for repatriation,” Monterona revealed.
Migrante said that the real numbers of OFWs in distress in the mentioned middle eastern countries have been kept by the Philippine Embassies and Consulates away from the knowledge of the press and OFW organizations like Migrante because if it will be exposed it will surely fall back on them and it will denote one thing: the Arroyo administration is sleeping on its responsibility to assist distress overseas Filipino workers on these countries.
“The increasing numbers of OFWs in distress speaks for itself that the Arroyo administration poorly performed its responsibility to OFWs in distress; the increasing numbers of distress OFWs is due to Arroyo administration’ s complete disregard to upholding and protecting migrant rights and welfare,” Monterona averred.
Monterona said that if the Arroyo administration is really sincere in upholding and promoting OFWs rights and welfare, it will not only pronounce that OFWs right and welfare will be a matter of foreign policy but also work or lobby for it to the governments of host countries.
“Upholding migrant rights and by promoting it, it should be set as an utmost foreign policy by the Arroyo administration or any post-Arroyo government and it could be done, for instance, by steadfast lobbying to host government to come up with a bilateral agreement respecting the rights and welfare of migrant workers,” Monterona explained.
“By having such mutual agreement with the host government on respecting OFWs rights and welfare, the Department of Foreign Affairs through its Philippine Embassies and Consulates abroad could require aspiring foreign employers to undergo “migrant rights and welfare” course seminars to inculcate into the minds of these employers that migrant or OFWs have rights too as they are humans like them,” Monterona added.
Monterona further said that a proviso in the supposed agreement between the Philippine Government and host government placing a mechanism where an employer should immediate issued an exit visa or exit permit to its OFW-employee if the latter decides to leave his/her employer or due to violation of its contractual obligations, thus wavering its right as sponsor to employed OFWs.
“The Philippine Government could do a lot more to upholding and promoting OFWs rights and welfare, only if the government is sincerely recognizing its responsibility to the sector that is keeping the Philippine economy afloat for quite sometime now and OFWs will continue to be of help to the sagging economy as the Arroyo administration failed to generate local jobs with decent income enough to survive a family who are getting poor in the advent of price increases of basic commodities including rice,” Monterona explained.
Monterona laments that OFWs and families have observed instead the insincerity and neglect of the Arroyo administration to upholding and protecting migrant rights and welfare.
Migrante ME said that the International Labor Organization and the International Organization on Migration would not commend the Arroyo administration for handling well the situation of migration if they are well aware of the worsening plight of OFWs in the Middle East .
“Thus, in no way its labor export program can be a model to other countries; no pro-migrant government would allow its overseas worker to be degraded, abused and harassed and be treated like commodity where their labor is being sold cheap in the labor market; no pro-migrant government would allow to see its people being hanged to death; no pro-migrant government would allow to see at least 10 cadaver of OFWs daily arrived in NAIA and other Philippine Airports. One can only see the above in the Philippines,” Monterona lamented.
Migrante ME’s Monterona ended saying “The International Labor Organization and the International Organization on Migration would not commend the Arroyo administration for handling well the situation of migration if only they are well aware of the worsening plight of OFWs in the Middle East, if only they could hear the plea and cries of distress and stranded OFWs and could see the long lists of OFW victims; then ILO and IOM may say the Arroyo administration is the worst and most-anti OFW government the Philippines ever has.” # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012