Story by Gerard de la Peña, News5
They came home carrying hardly anything other than their essential personal belongings. No pasalubong – goodies – for the folks back home, much less monetary savings, except, perhaps, for tales of woe and misfortune at the hands of unscrupulous labor recruiters or heartless employers.
These were the initial batch of 150-odd distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were repatriated and brought home by the Department of Labor after negotiations with counterpart officials in Saudi Arabia.
Some of them have worked there for as long as 10 years.
A female worker disclosed that her visa was stamped “dishwasher” yet her employer knew she was a teacher, a tutor. So, she was made to single handedly look after four children.
Some were among the ranks of undocumented workers who found themselves exploited in dire conditions, as many as an estimated 16,000 of them.
This situation has prompted labor officials to revisit policies and regulations for tighter management of the travel documentation of those going overseas. Numerous are the ones who had gone to Saudi Arabia on Hajj [religious pilgrimage] visit visas but opted to overstay and seek their fortune there.
Still, with so many tales of the unfortunate ones who found themselves in distress at the hands of less than favorable employers or working conditions, the government is taking a serious look at stopping the deployment of household service workers (HSW) – domestic helpers.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said: “It’s under consideration. Unless we are assured of the protection of our HSWs, we will consider doing that.”
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