Balladores also said that there was no transparency on the part of DOLE in the course of its investigation despite the “repeated follow up letters we sent you on October 29, November 2 and 8, and December 14, 2010.” The said investigation, where DOLE supposedly drew up their decision, also did not carry Tenorio’s testimony.
“The investigating committee told me that they would ask for my testimony. But they left (Hongkong) even without trying to contact me,” Tenorio said, adding that thousands of OFWs in Hongkong and those who posted comments on YouTube condemning Salud was ignored when the said committee chose to hear only one side of the story to protect Salud.
For one, the testimony of Fr. Emil Lim, a chaplain to Filipino migrants in Hongkong, who described Salud as “straightforward and has good intentions” and “accommodating as he participates in church activities,” has no connection whatsoever, Balladores said, to the verbal abuse that was committed against Tenorio.
As for the public apology, Balladores said Salud only issued such and admitted to some “shortcomings” which he justified by citing public pressure about two weeks after Tenorio spoke about the incident. She said that if Salud was really a humble servant, he should have apologized to Tenorio immediately, right after the incident and not after Tenorio went public.
Balladores said even if, as DOLE claims, it is the first time that an OFW filed a complaint against Salud, it should not be a reason to reduce his punishment but, instead, should “underscore the necessity and legality of a reprimand as the rule carries.”
While it is Tenorio who was the first to get a recorded evidence and the first to formally file a complaint, “it is false to assume that no other similar incident has happened in the past.”
DOLE, she said, should not credit Polo for settling the case, despite the media hype over the YouTube video, as it is part of their “mandate and responsibility as a public office and cannot be construed as a show of Labatt Salud’s remorse or kind-heartedness, much more a favor.”
Dismissal of Charges
Dole also dismissed the charges of abuse of authority that was filed by Tenorio. In its decision, DOLE said, there was “proper disposition of the requests of Agnes” that “were all granted,” adding that Salud “may have spoken loudly to emphasize what he wanted to say” but the said behavior “does not fall within the context of abuse of authority.”
Balladores said that during the incident Tenorio was “in a very vulnerable” and “insecure position” while Salud was in “a clear position,” which he used to “rudely address OFW Tenorio.”
Quoting Salud, “Don’t use the word ‘right.’ Because it is also my right if I am going to accept you or not. Don’t use the word ‘right’ on me,” Balladores said such statement does not only “negate what public service should be” but even “capitalizes on his position to point out” that it is within his discretion if he would provide services to an OFW in distress like Tenorio or not.
“Labatt Salud holding such kind of belief is very dangerous for it reflects a view that the post has no accountability to OFWs whom his office should give assistance to without reservation,” Balladores said, “With such a view, the position can be really abused.”
Aside from this, the charges filed against Salud for neglect of duty was also dismissed. DOLE said that all the necessary services and assistance were granted to Tenorio, pointing out that despite the fact that Salud failed to advise Tenorio of her right to file a labor complaint, he gave “primordial consideration” to Tenorio’s first option, which was to go home immediately and waive her loans.
“Is it not Labatt Salud’s duty to explain to OFW Tenorio — an OFW who just arrived in Hongkong and had experienced a labor problem for the first time — the process, implications, and other relevant information regarding the different options available so she could make an informed decision?” Balladores said.
Balladores said the Committee’s report and the DOLE decision did not mention that Tenorio was only allowed to stay in the Embassy’s shelter up to October 28 and without any extension. The Polo also did not offer any guarantee that it would assist her in securing a waiver for her debt in the Philippines. It also did not inform her that if she opts to go home, she would not receive any air ticket and that she will have to produce it herself.
The Fight Continues
“It also gravely concerns us that (DOLE) did not even take into consideration the more than 16,000 OFWs who signed the petition for Labatt Salud’s recall,” Balladores said. The signatures were submitted to DOLE through the Philippine Consulate general.
Meanwhile, Tenorio was able to get favorable decisions on the other cases she filed before other agencies. On January 18,the Labor department in Hongkong ruled in her favor and obliged her employer to settle their obligations to her amounting to HK$ 3,500.
Tenorio also won her case at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and was refunded all the fees that she paid to her recruitment agency.
“The first time she (Tenorio) told Labatt Salud that she wanted to file a case against her employer, he told her that it will be ‘a long shot’,” Balladares said, adding that it was either Salud was incompetent or simply unwilling to help. “Either way, it just proves that he is unfit for his post.”
“Shame on Baldoz, DOLE and the Aquino government for their handling of Salud’s case. This is a glaring disregard of OFWs’ rights,” Martinez of Migrante International said, “We demand no less than a recall.”
Balladores, for her part, said that“Tenorio’s fight to right the wrongdoing Salud committed against her is not yet over. Our fight for what is rightfully for OFWs shall continue.”
Tanong lang! Anong scope of work ni LABATT Salud? Parang Diyos ang feeling nya! Di ba ang trabaho nya ay patungkol sa Labor, di tour doon sa HK. Tayong mga OFW ay huwag nang umasa sa OWWA at huwag na rin kumuha nang OEC. Mas Malaki pa ang singil nga OWWA na US$50.00 kaysa P1625.00 na travel tax! Tingnan natin kung di sila magmakaawa sa OFW na kumuha nang OEC.