The crackdown on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) has begun in Kuwait. An organization of Filipino migrants reported that 40 OFWs were detained for not having the proper documents to work and stay in Kuwait. Of the 40, only 11 have been able to go home; the rest are awaiting repatriation. Most of them have been languishing in jail for three to six months.
BY ANGIE DE LARA
Volume VIII, Number 32, September 14 – 20, 2008
The chapter of Migrante International in Kuwait reported that 40 overseas Filipino workers were detained in the host country’s Central Jail. Of the 40, only eleven have been able to go home last Sept.4.
John Leonard Monterona regional coordinator of Migrante International-Middle East said that 18 more have their tickets and passports already. In a statement Sept. 8, Monterona said that these OFWs could not go home because nobody from the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait has attended to them to assist them in securing their travel documents.
The group said that they already sent a letter through email to Philippine Officials in Kuwait informing them that there are 40 OFWs requesting assistance from the Philippine embassy for their immediate repatriation.
Monterona said that most OFWs jailed in the Middle East have no pending cases at all and they are just waiting for their travel documents to be able to go home. “Until now, our government officials, especially Ambassador Ricardo Endaya and Vice Consul Rea Oreta, have not acted on the detained OFWs’ plea for assistance,” said Monterona.
Monterona added, “Staying even a single day in jail is like hell, especially when you know that you have done nothing wrong. Our embassy officials are supposed to be providing assistance and comfort to our distressed migrants but they have become the cause of delay in the repatriation of detained OFWs and have thus prolonged the stay of OFWs in jail.”
Migrante International said that embassy officials would usually reason out that the government cannot shoulder the cost of airfare for stranded OFWs. But in this case, Monterona said, some of the 40 OFWs already have their tickets and passports with them and are still languishing in jail for more than three to six months already. They are just waiting for their travel documents to be sent back home. “What now are their reasons for prolonging the stay of these OFWs?” Monterona asked.
Monterona said, “These OFWs add to the long list of millions of OFWs and their families who are a living witness to the continued neglect of the Arroyo administration. The Arroyo government fails to recognize OFWs as human beings, and treats them as commodities.”
Gil Lebria, coordinator of Migrante-Kuwait said that 29 of the 40 detained OFWs have sought Migrante’s assistance. They are Canora O. Paloma, Marites C. Ravidas, Sittie R.Edon , Marieta C.Dizon, Wida P.Kaguilak, Ana Redoblo, Marilyn Ilagan, Jojie Diadema, Maricar Barrios, Noor Seda Asem Ampong, Marivic Dayhop, Sameda Ahmad, Rosa Laseras, Fatima Dait Ciervo, Rosalie Junio, Citie Rakma Ebo, Mariannes S. Parailag.
Lebria also mentioned Mumina Makalay, Imelda Generalao, Rayhana Ismael, Sahra Makid, Lanoel Cornelio, Elisa Zamora, Aisa Labawan, Nur-aiza Barahim Taaral, Jessica Carillo, Bibiana Lubay, Nifma Nilo and Allen Legason.
Monterona said that the Kuwait Ministry of Interior is granting a 45-day amnesty for all illegal foreigners. The amnesty started on Sept. 1. According to local newspapers in Kuwait, the Ministry of Interior urged those who violated its regulations for residency to take advantage of the 45-day ultimatum and leave without being forced to pay any fine and being jailed.
Monterona said Philippine Embassy officials must grab this opportunity to give assistance to all OFWs who are staying illegally in Kuwait, especially those who were forced to run away from their abusive employers, those who are in jail and those who are in hiding.
The group also urged Congress to study the budget proposals of all OFW-concerned agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and specifically investigate the spending of the DFA’s Assistance to Nationals fund and OWWA’s repatriation funds. (Bulatlat.com)