Some distressed OFWs who returned home from Kuwait yet to receive gov’t assistance – Church group

Manila, Philippines – Several distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were victims of abuse and repatriated have yet to receive assistance from the Philippine government, a former OFW and a pastor from the United Methodist Church (UMC) who monitors migrants bared Saturday.

In a press conference organized by Migrante Philippines, Rev. Sol Villalon of the UMC anti-human trafficking and migrant ministry said just recently 10 former OFWs from Kuwait who were rape and attempted victims went together to their office seeking help as they’ve yet to receive any assistance from the government.
Sally, a repatriated OFW from Kuwait, said in the same press briefing she hasn’t received “even a single peso” from the OWWA.

“I was beaten by the boss. I didn’t get paid. I went home with nothing,” she said.

Villalon added that the OFWs she met in her office were crying as they recounted their horrible experiences.

“One (OFW) said that they already had a hard time abroad and yet when they came to the Philippines, they are begging. They are even begging for a little help from the government.”

“That’s why they went to our office. They didn’t get the 10,000 pesos that they were supposed to be given. When they arrived at the airport, (the money) wasn’t there. Until now some of them have gone back to the province, they tried to go to OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) there and to the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) but no one is helping them.”

The said former OFWs were also just being passed around by government agencies and the sad thing is they don’t have even have money for transportation.

Some of them, Villalon recalled, also borrowed money to do business in the Philippines but the pastor said “until now many of them have not received anything.”

Those who received money likewise, she claimed, were those who accompanied the trip of OWWA administrator Arnel Ignacio.

With this Villalon said, “That’s why we are calling on the government to serve the OFWs. Give it to them. They don’t have to beg the government just to receive such service. They have to be served at the time they have nothing and they need attention of the government agencies. We’re asking them to do something.”

Earlier on Thursday, Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan Ople bucked calls for a deployment ban of OFWs in Kuwait following the brutal killing of 35-year-old domestic helper Jullebee Ranara, whose body was also burned by the suspect later identified as the 17-year-old son of her employer.

Instead, she announced the plan to review the Philippines’ existing bilateral labor agreement with Kuwait.

As of press time, Ople has already ordered the deployment of a fact-finding team to Kuwait in order to assess the performance of its overseas labor post and review pending welfare cases in the said Gulf State.

The fact-finding team will review some parameters such as a comparative study on the number of welfare cases of distressed OFWs over a period of five years, what triggered the rise in these cases, the response time of both Philippine and Kuwaiti authorities and recruitment agencies in addressing calls for assistance, and how engaged were foreign recruitment agencies (FRAs) in monitoring their workers and screening their employers.

Undersecretary Bernard Olalia confirmed that separate recruitment violation cases will be filed against Catalist International Manpower Services Company and Platinum International Office for Recruitment of Domestic Manpower, the Philippine and Kuwaiti recruitment agencies, respectively, that facilitated Jullebee’s deployment.

Olalia explained that based on an initial investigation conducted by his office both agencies failed to comply with the mandatory monitoring required of recruitment agencies to ensure the well-being of their deployed workers.

OWWA Administrator Arnell Ignacio, on the other hand, reported to the media that his office has been looking after the Ranara family.

Ignacio said they are now working for the early release of insurance and other financial claims due the family of Jullebee, who was an active OWWA member at her time of death.