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Runaway and repatriated house helpers shield labor department, embassy and agencies
March 9, 2014, 12:00 pm

Philippine shelter breaks record with sixty five runaways last month, says Labor Attaché

“Just as we were promised, we will not stay an extra day needed in the shelter to return home, our gratitude to POLO and our agencies” lauded group of run-away helpers who recently underwent the repatriation program of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and The Philippine Embassy.

The group of house helpers who spoke to The Times via social media refuted several accusations being thrown recruitment agencies and Philippine departments for neglect and abuse without being given fair chance to air both side of the stories.

“We had an interview with a TV network and radio programs in Philippines and we cleared the air that delayed on repatriation of runaway workers depend on the cases they face and erring employers who refuse amicable settlement and presence in the labor office,” stated Maria who have been sold by her employer to another employer without the knowledge of her agency.

Maria added that being confined in the shelter for a month was not easy but the sentiment of being safe, documents being processed and agencies provision of her daily needs that included hygiene products, pocket money and return ticket to Philippines brought faith and confidence in the government agencies, which have been brutally and wrongly criticized.

“In all the processes we went through, we were there and if not we were informed and updated, we were told that the Kuwait law is different and that we have to abide; this includes time and patience” commented Lilia, a mother of two who was taken from her employer by her agency for not being paid with two months’ salary.

Lilia added that some of the runaway workers she has spoken with during her stay in the shelter found their complaints unreasonable and foolish such as being asked to wear the head cover, served with local food, not being allowed to use the phone or connect to the internet and later alter and fabricate their stories to terrible accusations to cover up the real reasons for running away and eventually win the sentiments of the public. “Many of these employers have something to say too and grievances against the workers but to evade discussions and being marked as abusers, they simply let go and settle and in some cases ignore”, added Lilia.

As for Luz, a mother and sole income earner of her family complained that proper and adequate orientation must be done in the Philippines to applicants; real stories and factual cases must be discussed, so they are aware and informed as to what the real situations of house helpers are in Kuwait.

“Many of these women face abuse and they deserve all the attention and assistance they need not only from agencies but the government as well.

“I have seen how much effort and tough situations Philippine officials go through every day; these include court hearings, hospital and jail visits, medical assistance, conciliations and more, yet none of these are highlighted nor spoken of in praise of their hard works.

We have prepared food in the dining hall for them but in many instances had no time to eat due to overload of work,” added Luz. She also lauded her recruitment agency for looking after her case and provided with what she needed.

“I will still find employment abroad because I know there are government and recruitment agencies which will labor in vain to protect my welfare and rights”, said Luz.
Krista, a twenty eight years old worker who was saved by agency from her employer told The Times that she was impressed with the quick response by the agency after she filed a complaint against her employers for letting her work in three different places.

“The agency spoke to my employer but they gave a different story and denied my allegations, nevertheless my agency took me from them and had me in the shelter, it was a month long process but now I am back home and safe with my family. I have heard several appalling stories and rumors about the shelter and yet during my stay had not witnessed any of these incidences; we were cared for and given attention especially in processing documents for our return. I am forever grateful to them,” added Krista.

Philippine Labor Attaché Atty. Cesar Chavez in a brief interview said that the labor office and its officials are here to serve the Filipinos and ensure their rights. “The department has suffered tremendous set back due to the incidences in the past but all these concerns are now being investigated and we will always cooperate, but our priority remains, which is to serve our OFWs in Kuwait and provide whatever is in our capacity,” commented the Labor Attaché.

Atty. Chavez also added that the shelter finally breaks the record of having only 60 runaways currently seeking shelter and that immediate processing of their documents are being done for quick repatriation.

- Ricky Laxa,
Staff Writer
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