April 2 began like any other working day for Ramos and his colleagues until they were asked by their foreman to return to their dormitories. Upon arriving at their room, Ramos was surprised to see Omar in his room. They were informed that the company would be transferred and that the four of them would be working in the palace of a prince. They were also informed that cellular phones were not allowed in the palace and Omar would confiscate their phones. Ramos said that they believed in what Omar was saying. “Kinamayan pa nga niya kami,” (We even shook hands.) he added.
However, the supposed prince’s palace turned out to be a high fenced abandoned house. Ramos told Bulatlat that he noticed that construction materials were scattered all over the place.
“Siguro para pag mayroong naghanap sa amin, o pag hinanap kami ng Philippine Embassy, ang sasabihin ay nagtatrabaho kami doon,” (Maybe the construction materials were scattered to give the impression that they were working there in case somebody or the Philippine Embassy would look for them.) Ramos speculated.
The next day, the guards told them to sign a document stating that they agreed to the termination of their contract.
“Kung hindi niyo pipirmahan yan e uuwi kayo sa Pilipinas ng walang pera,” (If you do not sign the document, the company would send you home, penniless.) Ramos quoted the guards as saying. The following day, at around 9:30 a.m., they were sent to the airport.
Filing of complaints
Ramos shared his story in a press conference organized by Migrante International April 22. Along with other OFWs who were victims of contract substitution and illegal dismissal, they have decided to file complaints against their respective recruitment agencies and some government officials and agencies involved such as the POEA.
John Monterona, Migrante Middle East coordinator, said, in an interview, that there is a possibility that this cycle of abuse would continue. He told Bulatlat, “Mukhang kumikita rin ang agencies dahil ang mismong mga agency na ang nagrerefer sa mga lending companies,” (It seems that recruitment agencies also earn from the interest payments on the debts of OFWs since they are the ones who refer OFWs to lending companies.)(Bulatlat.com)