Tuesday, October 11, 2011

2 abused Filipina workers detained in Saudi Arabia

MANILA – Two Filipina domestic helpers who ran away from their abusive employer were jailed after Philippine government officials whom they sought help handed them over to the police.

The two workers have been identified as Rebecca Likas, 31, who comes from Taguig City, and Eustaquia Bahao, 49, who hails from Hingoog City in Misamis province.

They ran away from their employers on October 17. Both worked for the same employer in Saihat City in Saudi’s eastern coast. The duo said they have not been paid their salaries for more than three months and were maltreated by their employer.

The Filipinos were assisted by the group Migrante and brought them to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office so they can file their complaints against their employer.

But Migrante was shocked to learn the Philippine officials - instead of helping the distressed workers - tipped off the police about the two Filipinas and were arrested and detained in al-Khobar City.

The two Filipinas were branded as “absconder” and that their recruitment agency was notified about the arrest.

“The two overseas Filipino workers who ran away from their employers on alleged abuses and maltreatment thought that they would be given assistance by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, but ended up in jail,” John Leonard Monterona, Migrante’s regional coordinator, said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) is under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Monterona also lambasted the POLO-OWWA for neglecting the plea of the abused OFWs for assistance. “POLO-OWWA should have arranged them to undergo a medical checkup and call the attention of the local placement agency before handing over them to the police station,” he said.

Monterona said the two workers fear that their local recruitment agency will return them to their abusive employer.

“After we exerted efforts to rescue and provide assistance to the distressed Filipinas, POLO-OWWA officials easily handed over them to the police and eventually return to their abusive employer to be maltreated again. It showed only how inutile these POLO-OWWA officials in the Eastern region,” he said.

Monterona also called on Philippine Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to investigate the incident and look into numerous complaints by distressed and abused OFWs and their families against POLO officials in Saudi Arabia. (Mindanao Examiner)

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