Open Letter to the President of the Philippines on the Plight of Overseas Filipino Workers

Vol. VIII, No. 4, February 24-March 1, 2008

21 February 2008

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace
Fax: +63 2 736 1010

Dear President Arroyo,

The news of the plight of the 111 Filipino workers in Jeddah and the 50 Filipino workers in Kuwait shocked us.  We are appalled and cannot comprehend how a government who depend so much on the remittances of these workers abandoned its citizens this way.

The 111 Filipinos in Jeddah were forced to camp under a bridge and beg for food just to survive after calls for help were ignored by the Philippine government. They visited the Philippine consulate on the 3rd of February to seek assistance yet to date none of these workers are given proper assistance. Some of them were returned to their employers who had abused them while some were turned over to the Riyadh authority for deportation who transported them like criminals in handcuffs.

The 50 workers in Kuwait resort to eating expired food and scrounging trash bins for materials they can sell to survive. They are victims of contract substitution. They were recruited to work for Gulf Link Transport Company but were subcontracted to different employers as cleaners. They were made to work for 12 hours without any overtime pay and not provided with any documentation supporting their payment. Some of them have not received salary or their salary delayed in three months they had worked.

We condemn the fact that while the epidemic corruption afflicting your government is tolerated, the unconscionable act of neglect of government agencies and the maltreatment, harassment and labor malpractices committed against overseas Filipino workers, specifically in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait , go unchecked. It is quite apparent where your government priorities lie as revealed by Rodolfo Lozada Jr. on the ZTE broadband deal. Five hundred thousand Philippine pesos could be found at the flick of fingers to bribe government officials while there’s no money and assistance for our economic heroes – like the overseas Filipino workers in Jeddah at the moment.

We call on the Philippine government to immediately attend to the needs of these workers and provide them with the necessary assistance they require.

We call on the Philippine government to utilize the funds it has collected from Overseas Filipino workers for the protection and assistance of these overseas Filipino workers.

George Kotsakis
For Migrante Melbourne

Posted by Bulatlat

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