MANILA – Two overseas Filipino workers were not accepted in Bahay Kalinga, a shelter for runaway OFWs managed by the Philippine embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. They were told that they need to get an endorsement from embassy case officers first.
Vicente Muana and Zosima Montrey, both working as beauticians, ran away from their employers because they were not paid their salaries for 14 months already. They sought help from the Philippine Embassy on Oct. 2 but were not attended to.
“What hurt us even more was we were told that we were TNT that is why we were refused assistance,” Muana said in a statement. TNT is an acronym for tago ng tago, literally translated to “keep on hiding,” and is a reference to undocumented migrant workers.
In a separate statement, Migrante Middle East coordinator John Monterona said they have already spoken to Labor Attache Albert Valencia and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) welfare officer Nestor Burayag regarding the case of the two beauticians but their request for temporary refuge at Bahay Kalinga is still being denied.
“Philippine officials like Labor Attache Valencia and Welfare officer Burayag must be reprimanded or, better yet, be sent back to the Philippines to take a refresher course on being a good public servant,” Monterona said, adding that Labor secretary Rosalina Baldoz should investigate and recall “these inutile and inept officials in Riyadh.”
The Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan said the Philippine Overseas Labor Office – Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (POLO-OWWA) case officers have promised to attend to these cases and closely coordinate with the complaining OFWs especially during case hearings. The KGS initiated a case dialogue with Philippine overseas labor officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
KGS chairperson Eric Jocson said they normally set case dialogues with Philippine embassy officials only when the need arises. But with the rampant cases of OFWs being abused and exploited, Jocson said, it seems that it is high time to conduct these case dialogues at least once a week.
In their recent case dialogue, OFWs working in Al Nusha and Afras had the opportunity to air their grievances regarding their working conditions, as well as their disappointment over the actions taken by POLO case officers who were assigned to their respective cases. The OFWs complained that the case officers do not attend to their labor case hearings. (Bulatlat.com)