Solons Castigate Gov’t Agencies for Neglecting Victims of Illegal Recruitment in Libya

By THEA AYLA P. BANAG
Migrant Watch

Bulatlat

Members of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs criticized several government agencies for “ignoring the pleas” of Filipino workers who became victims of illegal recruitment in Libya.

The Committee held an inquiry in aid of legislation, Wednesday, into the plight of 50 overseas Filipino workers in Libya who were victims of contract substitution and labor malpractices.

The hearing was held in compliance with House Resolution 417 adopted by the Committee on May 11 that also aims to look into the apparent negligence of the labor attaché and welfare officer in Libya to the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Rep. Milagros Magsaysay (1st district, Zambales) agreed to the request of Raul Ramos, one of the 50 OFWs in Libya, to probe further the negligence of the government agencies such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Earlier, Ramos and his colleagues called on DOLE to sack its two officials in Libya. The overseas Filipino workers maintained that the labor officials were ignoring their complaints against Sharikat Al-Saide International Manpower Services in Libya. The OFWs decried contract substitution and inhumane working conditions.

According to earlier reports, Migrante-Middle East accused labor attaché Nasser Mustafa and welfare officer Robert Baccig of siding with the OFWs’ employer, Cifex World, instead of with the Filipinos.

Ramos said the initial contract they signed stipulates that they would receive $520 wage but when they arrived in Libya, it had become $300.

“We were asked to sign another contract before we leave. Since we were already there, we just agreed. In Libya, we were not given just wages. If we would not go to work on our rest days, we would be considered absent,” he added.

Ramos told the Committee members that they sought the help of DOLE. “Instead of siding with us, the DOLE served as spokesperson of Mustafa,” he said.

Magsaysay said, “The DOLE should have fought for these unfortunate OFWs and should have not compromised the interest of OFWs through a conciliation…that should not be the rule. These OFWs are unfortunate. Until now, they might still be paying for their debts.”

Magsaysay said, “Unfortunately, the OFWs only follow the POEA. The POEA must be responsible for them.”

Magsaysay also criticized the Department of Foreign Affairs for not coordinating with the Committee. “As a matter of fact, they are violating the measures given to these agencies because they are not coordinating with us or even to their fellow agencies. They are supposed to share information to other agencies as well,” the legislator said.

Meanwhile, lawyer Hans Cacdac of the POEA said that the agency has released preventive suspension to recruitment agencies Sharikat Al-Saide International Manpower Services, Aqau Gem International Manpower Services, and Cifex who were responsible for the plight of OFWs in Libya.

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro) also vowed to help OFWs in Libya. “We should do actions about this and hopefully call on others to help as well,” he said.(Bulatlat.com)

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  1. There is a case of about a dozen Filipinos who alleged having been victimized by illegal recruiters and sought help from the Philippine consulate in Los Angeles. They said officials there disregarded them. A journalist named Pex Aves tried to follow-up the case but complained that he was instead treated rudely by a Vice Consul Chua. Aves complaint was brought to the attention of Consul General Aragon who in turn said that she had notified Chua about the complaint. It’s almost two months now and Ms. Chua has not issued any statement. Also, many are wondering why this case has been under wraps. It took an OWWA officer to leak the story before the community got wind about it and the story was circulated widely in online discussion forums. Last Saturday it was learned that the consulate supposedly handed out $1700 to the victims. The victims also said that a church group is helping them while they are trying to thresh out their lives. Meanwhile, the OWWA officer identified as Mr. Duero is reportedly in hot water for helping the victims and treated as a pariah at the consulate where he is attached.

  2. Sa umpisa pa lang ang problema ay nag mula sa Pinas Alam na pala ni Mr. Ramos na Business visa ang binigay sa kanya dapat doon palang nag protesta na siya at hindi tumuloy Yan ang mahirap sa ating mga pinoy laging nagbabakasakali katulad ng mga nagiimbistiga ngayon ang dapat tignan ng mga Congressman the root of the problem

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