Thursday, February 26, 2009

RP officials "must reply"

Press Release
26 February 2009

Migrant group to RP officials abroad:
You “must reply” instead of “no reply”;
supports calls no to “right to reply” bill

An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations based in the Middle East today said RP officials abroad must reply on the cases they have referred to for their action instead of invoking the “no reply” or simply ignoring the request for assistance.

“Often we received no reply from our embassy and consular officials when we referred right and welfare cases of OFWs who have sought our attention,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said his group has been receiving an average of 5 cases a day coming from distress OFWs, maltreated, abuse and victims of labor malpractices in the Middle East and even in the African region.

“Upon receipt of complaint or request for assistance from distress OFWs or coming from their families in the Philippines and after verification, we would usually endorse the case to concerned RP posts for their information and action. But, we are sorry to receive no reply coming from them after referral of the case has been made,” Monterona added.

Monterona said Philippine Embassy or Consular offices in Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar are lazy to reply on case referrals Migrante and other OFW groups have endorsed and called their attention for their needful action.

“Our Embassy officials in Saudi Arabia should be commended as far as replying to request for assistance is concerned. Every time we refer a case to them, they would give their best shot by providing feedback and actions they are going to take until the case is resolved; PCG in Jeddah must do the same,” Monterona said.

“Case feedback and open communication and sharing of information are at the best interest of distress OFWs and our embassies and consular offices that are duty-bound to provide assistance. Otherwise, if RP officials abroad failed to inform us what action it will undertake about the case referred to them, we would partially came to a conclusion that our RP officials are not doing anything about the case referred to their attention and action,” Monterona said.

Monterona said it would be unfair to our RP officials if OFWs would think that their officials are just a bunch of sitting duck or just pretty sitting on the 4-corners of their offices.

“Thus, their feedback and reply does make sense and is of big help to distress OFWs who partially could be assured that our RP officials abroad are doing something on their present predicament,” Monterona averred.

“RP officials prompt feedback or reply to request for assistance is already a relief to distress OFWs who would be calmed down that their office had already acknowledge their plea for assistance. More so, distress OFW and their family would be very happy if you would act promptly on their case,” Monterona added.

“We do understand that our embassy and consular offices have many cases at hand. Even us, we are receiving an average of 5 cases daily; but we see to it we could provide information and feedback to distress OFWs and their family back home what action we would undertake even if we are also working. These numerous 'expected-to- happen' cases are the very reason why POLO-OWWA offices existed - to provide assistance to the thousands of distress OFWs,” Monterona added.

Monterona cited the case of 200 ran away OFWs who are now at the Philippine Labor Office in Kuwait, “RP officials in Kuwait are answerable to what action(s) it has taken in protecting the rights and welfare of the 200 ran away and all OFWs in Kuwait,” he added.

“But sad to say, every time we refer a case to their attention, it will reply nothing or just simply said on their reply “acknowledge receipt,” Monterona added.

Migrante-ME is urging the Congress to pass a law requiring RP Embassy and Consular officials to reply and act on the cases of OFWs referred to their attention and providing penalties thereof to RP officials who failed to reply and act on such referred cases for their needful action.

Migrante-ME said the controversial “right of reply” Bill does not deserve any support at all as it will only restrain editors and news managers where in fact the media is serving as the most fearless, vocal and vanguard of truth.

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

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