For IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson, 09217229740
Ailyn Abdula, Media Officer, 09212708994
Arroyo’s arrival from KSA met with protest from Migrants sector
Stop using OFWs for media gimmick! Genuine service for OFWs now!
This was the battle cry of Filipino workers and their families in a press
conference held in time for President Arroyo’s arrival from the Kingdom of
“For sure, Arroyo will be arriving in style using the 120 OFWs as her
unwilling accessories to bolster success in her 3-nation swing. We do not
blame the OFWs for jumping in to her junket, they just want to be home and
get away from the nightmare that the Philippine government has given
them,” said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.
Martinez said that “if she truly wants to rescue our kababayans, she could
have instructed the Philippine Embassy to repatriate them way earlier, did
not leave a hundred more languishing at the deportation center in Hajj
Airport, and sent a chartered flight to save more than 200 OFWs stranded
in Maldives. And if she really was concerned with their welfare, she
should have intervened in the numerous cases of contract violation, abuse
and death sentence against Filipinos abroad.”
Migrante gave the information that the stranded Filipinos in Jeddah and
the islands of Maldives are not receiving any help from assigned
Philippine consulates and embassies. They also cited OFWs reports of not
seeing “even a shadow” of a representative from Philippine authorities.
Martinez also said that “instead of delivering grandstanding statements on
welfare protection, she could have done concrete actions like scrapping
the Unified Contract scheme that absolves abusive employers and
criminalizes OFW runaways. She could have also punished embassy officials
that drive away Filipinos to go back to their cruel employers.”
According to the group, the Unified Contract was proposed by the Saudi
National Recruitment Committee to impose provisions in the contract of
OFWs working in the Kingdom which were detrimental to the interest of OFWs
especially domestic helpers. The said proposal was signed by then DOLE
Secretary Pat Sto Tomas in 2002 despite criticisms.
Filipino deportees left behind in Jeddah
Last September 18, Abdul Jalil Sinal, a Filipino at the deportation center
in Jeddah called Migrante and accounted that they are 88, 37 men and 51
women. One has already died, 6 have LBM and 5 have difficulties in
breathing. He also reported that 30 people are being cramped in 8x8 meter
cells and food and water is hardly available.
Sinal also reported on the next day that Godspray Espinas was brought to
the hospital. Mila Espinas, his mother, informed Migrante that his son has
a weak heart and undergoes medication.
Migrante confirmed that according to the accounts of the OFWs, the
Philippine Embassy has not sent any individual to give them support.
“Wala ka talagang maasahan sa embassy. Sa totoo lang mas gugustuhin pa ng
mga Pinoy na magpahuli sa police kaysa lumapit sa ating embahada.
Imposibleng hindi nila alam ang kalagayan ng mga kababayan natin sa
deportation center,” said Anwar Sinal, brother of Abdul and also worked in
Saudi Arabia last year until February 2009.
Still no help for OFWs in Maldives
“Contrary to what OWWA announced in September 10, help is still nowhere to
be found. Two weeks has already passed since we have informed the DFA,
POEA and OWWA about the plight of the OFWs in Maldives. Nasaan na ang
ipinagmamayabang ni Carmelita Dimzon na kaya nilang mapauwi ang ating mga
kababayan sa loob ng 48 oras,” exclaimed Martinez.
Martinez added that they have informed the DFA and Philippine Embassy in
Bangladesh that the workers were being forced to sign resignation papers
before they process exit clearances and air tickets, and yet they did not
do anything to intervene to fast track the repatriation.
More than 200 Filipinos working for the rehabilitation of Tsunami stricken
Maldives islands complained of unpaid 5-month salaries and inadequate food
Armando del Mundo, one of the workers, phoned Migrante and said that
“dahil mukhang wala na talagang darating na tulong, makikipagsapalaran na
kami sa Male kahit walang tiyak na matutuluyan, kaysa naman mamatay kami
sa gutom at sakit dito.”
They have decided to use their last few money to rent small boats and
proceed to the capital of Maldives which is 36 hours away by boat from
their present location. The Filipinos are situated in three remote islands
– Villingili, Dhandhoo and Maamendhoo.###