16 August 2009
OFW group’s safe house for distress workers raided by Police;
Migrante-ME working for their release
Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations based in the Middle East today confirmed that one of its pioneering member-organization , the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS) safe house was raided by the Saudi Police last Friday, 14th August, 2009.
“We confirm that the safe house of KGS, a member organization of Migrante, where distress and run away OFWs are temporarily seeking refuge was raided by the local police last Friday at about 3:00 p.m.,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.
Monterona said KGS was conducting its regular weekly case dialogs and counseling to OFW victims of maltreatment and abuses who ran away from their employers.
Monterona said ten (10) of its officers and member, and 3 service workers have been sent to Bahdiya Police Station in Riyadh for investigation. While the (5) distress OFW women were brought to Malaz Jail.
“KGS Officers and members have been giving advises to run away and distress OFWs before they will be formally endorse to POLO-OWWA as part of its rights and welfare assistance program (RWAP),” Monterona added.
Monterona said KGS with a long running tradition of helping and providing assistance to abused and maltreated OFWs since its founding way back 1980 has members and officers committed to provide assistance to distress and run away OFWs that it can’t simply turn its back to abused and maltreated OFWs seeking its help despite restrictions imposed by the host country.
“KGS and Migrante chapters in the Middle East continuously extend assistance to abused and maltreated OFWs because we need to, because daily we have been receiving an average of 5 cases, because there is no protection on their well-being, rights and welfare; this is the call of the time –to provide help to the thousands of abused and maltreated OFWs,” Monterona added.
Monterona said one of its leaders had already been released yesterday evening as the group was able to prove to the apprehending Police that it is a legitimate OFW organization providing assistance to distress OFWs.
“We are closely coordinating with our Embassy Officials for the release of other KGS officers and members as well as those apprehended distress OFWs,” Monterona confirmed.
“We would like to make it clear that we fully understand the implications of “harboring absconders” that’s why we have made arrangement like having temporary safe houses for ran away and distress OFWs until we formally endorse them to POLO-OWWA for their appropriate action, because POLO-OWWA and our RP posts can’t attend these numerous cases, a reason for us to do our discrete share helping our fellow OFWs especially abused and maltreated who have run away from their employers,” Monterona explained.
Monterona said even POLO-OWWA offices maintain their own safe houses for distress and run away OFWs.
Monterona said it is high time for the RP government to pro-actively do its part and not to set aside the need to have a more comprehensive approach to rights and welfare cases involving abused and maltreated run away OFWs in agreement with the host government.
“Keeping in mind that distress and run away OFWs are victims here, not criminals,” Monterona ended.
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012