On January 1, 2010, her project manager told her that she would no longer be working for Kingdom Hospital, because she would be replaced already. Aquino was transferred to Al Osra Clinic, where she had an irregular schedule. She was told that she would have to work in the said clinic until her issues with the project manager had been resolved.
But five months passed. She continued following-up her status. No less than Nasban himself, one of the owners of the manpower services she worked for, faced her on May 17, 2010.
“He was very mad at me. He confiscated my cellphone, my money, my ATM and my Iqama,” Aquino said, “He said that if I do not want to go back to work, I should just stay in my villa.”
The following day, Aquino asked for the assistance of the Philippine embassy. She was able to talk to Burayag over the phone. “At first, he sounded fine. But as I told him my problems, he advised that I should escape from my employer.”
Aquino said she was shocked by Burayag’s advise to her because escaping from one’s employer would automatically make her liable for a criminal case. Through her co-worker Vilma, she was able to contact John Monterona, the Migrante Middle East Coordinator. She was advised to stay in the Villa.
Monterona asked Aquino to contact one of the people working for the embassy. But her phone call was eventually passed on to Burayag. The welfare officer again told Aquino that she would have to escape the villa, even if it entailed jumping off from the third floor of their building.
“If I would do such, can they guarantee that they would be able to help me? Could they guarantee that my employers would not be able to go after me once I am under their custody?” she said.
Through a friend, Aquino was able to get her partner Andy’s number. She informed him about what has happened to her and asked him to contact Migrante International for help.
Andy, together with Migrante, asked the help of all concerned government agencies in the country such as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and POEA. Then, on June 12, 2010, Aquino received the good news from her villa supervisor that she would be going home on June 13.
Aquino told Bulatlat that she is demanding for justice. She said she does not want Burayag to be simply replaced. “Because that means that he would be transferred to another embassy and would probably do the same thing as he did to me,” Aquino said, “He should be terminated to serve as an example to other government officials deployed abroad.”
Earlier this month, OFWs have called on the OWWA to probe and sack Burayag. But no action has been done on the case.
Migrante chairperson Garry Martinez said that Burayag’s attitude towards Aquino reflects the Arroyo administration’s general misconduct toward OFWs. “In truth, many of them connive with foreign employers such as Annasban in subjecting Filipino workersto dire working and living conditions.”
Martinez told Bulatlat that this should serve as a challenge to the next administration. “The path that OFWs are taking would remain dark, for as long as they are perceived as milking cows of the government to keep the economy afloat.” (Bulatlat.com)