There are 30 plus distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), all women, in Oman temporarily seeking refuge at the Philippine Embassy’s Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC), according to a Filipino migrants rights group providing assistance to distressed and abused OFWs.
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said some of the distressed OFWs discretely managed to call him yesterday as they plead for their repatriation.
“I am expecting a call from the distressed OFWs after some of their kin in the Philippines called me last week also seeking assistance for their OFWs’ repatriation,” Monterona confirmed.
Monterona said most of the distressed OFWs were run away from their employers due to alleged abuses and labor malpractices by their employers.
“Most of them have been in FWRC for 2 to 3 months, while others for over 6 months,” Monterona calling the PH embassy to fast track the repatriation of the distressed OFWs.
Among the 30 distressed OFWs is OFW ‘Ruby’ (not her real name), who is only 19 years old, from Maguindanao.
OFW Ruby was deployed by a local agency in Manila on July 10, 2011 as a household service worker, but she only works for 10 days in her employer in UAE.
Monterona found out that the counterpart Abu Dhabi-based agency of the Manila-based recruitment agency transferred OFW Ruby to Al Ain to work for another employer.
“She was brought to Oman by her new employer, where she also ran away over alleged abuses and maltreatment,” Monterona added.
Monterona said: “Clearly, OFW Ruby was a victim of human smuggling. She is underage and should have not been deployed in the first place.”
Illegal recruitment, human smuggling still rampant
On Sunday, Monterona said his group continuously receiving, on a daily basis, an average of ten (10) cases of OFWs as victim of illegal recruitment and human smuggling.
“Our group monitoring of illegal recruitment cases in the Middle East revealed that an average of 10 OFWs were victim of illegal recruitment asking for assistance,” Monterona revealed.
Monterona citing POEA 2010 statistics, it handled 1,648 cases of illegal recruitment but it only acted and resolved 283, translated to 17.2% disposition rate; 1,365 cases were pending at end year of 2010.
“On 2004, only 12 persons were arrested and 6 recruitment agencies were closed, out of the 1,648 case of illegal recruitment handdled by the POEA,” Monterona noted.
Illegal recruitment cases disposition recorded by the POEA which was its highest rate recorded on 2004 with 44.5% or 650 cases have been acted out of 1,462 illegal recruitment cases.
“The low incidence of illegal recruitment and trafficking cases officially recorded by the government is due to the govt. agencies and labor offices abroad reluctance to pursue and provide support to OFWs to file cases against illegal recruiters,” Monterona added.
He observed that instead of providing support to the victims of illegal recruitment, labor officials are often cited by the victims discouraging them to file cases either in host country labor court or in the POEA or in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
Monterona urges the Inter-Agency Committee against Trafficking (IACAT) headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, also presidential adviser on OFWs concerns, to work hard in filling and pursuing cases against illegal recruiters and human traffickers.
Meanwhile, Monterona lauded the Supreme Court in upholding the Nov.29, 2005 life sentence verdict of the Zamboanga City Regional Trial on two human traffickers who had sent four women, including a minor, to work as prostitutes in Malaysia.
“We would like to see more illegal recruiters and human smugglers prosecuted and send behind bars, while we call on our fellow OFWs and would-be OFWs to be vigilant and report any illegal recruitment and human smuggling activities to the concerned authorities,” Monterona ended. # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator