Pi­noys pe­ti­tion ME HSW halt

Rise in abuse

Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Michelle Fe San­ti­ago Arab Times Staff

KUWAIT CITY, July 17: Filipino com­mu­nity lead­ers in Bahrain, the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE), Qatar, Oman, Jor­dan, King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia and State of Kuwait have joined hands and launched this week a pe­ti­tion ap­peal­ing strongly to the Philip­pine govern­ment to im­me­di­ately sus­pend the de­ploy­ment of Filipino women as House­hold Ser­vice Work­ers (HSWs) to the Mid­dle East due to the re­cent rise in the num­ber of abuses com­mit­ted against Filipino HSWs in Kuwait and var­i­ous parts of the Mid­dle East.

The pe­ti­tion ad­dressed to Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino III, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Depart­ment of Labour and Em­ploy­ment and Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs un­der­scores the fail­ure of the Philip­pine em­bassies, con­sulates and labour of­fices in th­ese coun­tries to ad­dress the wel­fare and con­cerns of Over­seas Filipino Work­ers (OFWs) due to in­ad­e­quate man­power and re­sources as well as the ab­sence of do­mes­tic laws for house­maids in Kuwait and the afore­men­tioned coun­tries.

In par­al­lel to the on the ground cam­paign for the mora­to­rium on the de­ploy­ment of Filipino HSWs, an on­line pe­ti­tion was si­mul­ta­ne­ously launched on the change.org web­site and on the so­cial net­work­ing site Face­book. Thou­sands of ne­ti­zens mostly OFWs as well as ad­vo­cacy groups in the Mid­dle East have shared and sup­ported the on­line pe­ti­tion to sus­pend the de­ploy­ment of Filipino HSWs to the Mid­dle East.


“It’s about time that the Philip­pine govern­ment stops the de­ploy­ment of Filipino house­hold ser­vice work­ers to Kuwait. Filipino women are be­ing abused ev­ery­day. The Philip­pine Em­bassy can­not give us due pro­tec­tion and even po­lice au­thor­i­ties here. We are be­ing looked down just like that,” stated Ann Abunda, the Pres­i­dent of Mga Oragon sa Kuwait and one of the prime movers of the pe­ti­tion. There are around 180,000 OFWs in Kuwait and over 80,000 of whom work as HSWs.

The mora­to­rium pe­ti­tion out­lines that th­ese labour­receiv­ing coun­tries have not en­acted laws to en­sure the pro­tec­tion and rights of house work­ers; have not of­fi­cially and trans­par­ently ac­knowl­edged the terms and pro­vi­sions of the Philip­pine Over­seas Em­ploy­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion (POEA) stan­dard em­ploy­ment con­tract for HSWs ; and do not have a clear, re­li­able and speedy ad­ju­di­ca­tion sys­tem to re­solve for­mal com­plaints of HSWs against erring em­ploy­ers or spon­sors.

It also cited in the pe­ti­tion that in th­ese coun­tries, abuses against mostly Filipino women house work­ers abound from long-work­ing hours, un­paid salaries, un­der­pay­ment of salaries, bad liv­ing con­di­tions, mal­treat­ment, sex­ual as­sault and vi­o­lence, phys­i­cal cru­elty, ver­bal ill-treat­ment, il­le­gal work, il­le­gal re­cruit­ment, false charges of theft, and other forms of ex­ploita­tion re­sult­ing to hun­dreds and thou­sands of HSWs be­ing stranded for weeks and months at the

var­i­ous Filipino Work­ers Re­source Cen­tres (FWRCs). Some of them even go through the process of de­ten­tion in de­por­ta­tion cen­tres be­fore their repa­tri­a­tion to the Philip­pines.

“I to­tally sup­port the call for a mora­to­rium. We are on the ground and we have seen and res­cued nu­mer­ous Filip­ina HSWs who were phys­i­cally or sex­u­ally abused,” pointed out Hengie V Ta­ton, an Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vice nurse at the Min­istry of Health and Pres­i­dent of the Pi­noy Am­bu­lance Nurses in Kuwait (PANIK).

Mean­while, the Pilipino sa Kuwait Face­book page which has over 70,000 mem­bers has been swamped by com­ments when the on­line pe­ti­tion was posted. “We call on ev­ery­one to sup­port the mora­to­rium. We thanked all those who have signed the pe­ti­tion. The Philip­pine govern­ment must heed our call and be moved with wis­dom, good judg­ment and de­ter­mi­na­tion to muster the po­lit­i­cal will to, with­out de­lay, freeze the de­ploy­ment of our women as house­hold ser­vice work­ers (HSWs) to the Mid­dle East and to put an end to this decades of vi­cious cy­cle of re­cruit­ment-de­ploy­ment-abuse and un­til there be clear con­di­tions that will en­sure the wel­fare and pro­tec­tion of our women house work­ers,” stressed El­jan Em­brado, the founder and ad­min­is­tra­tor of Pilipino sa Kuwait.

In ad­di­tion, the mora­to­rium pe­ti­tion also men­tions the “sex-for-flight-is­sue” launch­ing a wild me­dia chase against for­eign ser­vice per­son­nel which has shown that some of the Philip­pine govern­ment’s own re­cruits ap­pear to have ex­ploited HSWs un­der their care. Need­less to say that govern­ment ap­pointees tasked to serve the OFWs) are un­der at­tack. The Filipino lead­ers call for the swift pun­ish­ment of those guilty per­son­nel.

On the other hand, the Filipino As­so­ci­a­tion of Sec­re­taries of Em­ploy­ment Agen­cies in Kuwait (FILASEAK) has ex­pressed strong op­po­si­tion to the call for mora­to­rium on the de­ploy­ment of HSWs to Kuwait.

“Is this the so­lu­tion to solve all cases in Kuwait? They should think first. How about our govern­ment? Can they pro­vide de­cent jobs to thou­sands of Filipinos liv­ing in poverty? If they can pro­vide bet­ter jobs in the Philip­pines, well and good, go ahead and stop the de­ploy­ment. We are help­ing thou­sands of Filipinos go abroad to have a bet­ter fu­ture. Not all HSWs end up in mis­er­able state. Alot have been suc­cess­ful and have a bet­ter life,” ex­plained Lailah Ven­tu­rina, the trea­surer of the FILASEAK. She re­it­er­ated that it is the task of the Philip­pine govern­ment and the host govern­ment to meet and dis­cuss the pro­tec­tion of ex­pa­tri­ate work­ers.

“They should check the statis­tics first. How many HSWs have been suc­cess­ful abroad as op­posed to those who suf­fered bad fate? Why let thou­sands of Filipinos who want to seek greener pas­ture abroad be stopped just be­cause of the mis­for­tune of a few?” stated a Filipino owner of a man­power re­cruit­ment agency who re­quested for anonymity.

Mean­while, the Philip­pine Charge d’ Af­faires Atty Raul H Dado told the Arab Times on Wed­nes­day that they have been meet­ing with Kuwait govern­ment of­fi­cials to bring to their at­ten­tion the ris­ing num­ber of abuses com­mit­ted against Filipino women in Kuwait and seek fur­ther as­sis­tance in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and res­o­lu­tion of such cases.

“We spoke to the Kuwaiti au­thor­i­ties. We sent a diplo­matic note to the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs to get their at­ten­tion and their help in in­ves­ti­gat­ing th­ese cases. We have our lawyers. We have our le­gal team. We have vis­ited vic­tims of th­ese abuses in the hos­pi­tals. We’re fil­ing cases. We are pre­par­ing le­gal strate­gies. We are do­ing the diplo­matic and le­gal ap­proaches so as not to cause more in­jus­tice or cause more un­rest in the feel­ings of peo­ple. We are go­ing through the proper le­gal sys­tem and not en­cour­age re­venge or for peo­ple to take any vi­o­lent ac­tion,” stated Dado. He out­lined the var­i­ous cases of abuses and the most re­cent one, the case of the fit­ness in­struc­tor who was al­legedly dragged by a po­lice through a flight of stairs at the Kuwait Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (Bal­a­dia) in Sharq re­sult­ing in mul­ti­ple in­juries and frac­tures.

With re­gard to the on­go­ing mora­to­rium cam­paign on the de­ploy­ment of HSWs, Dado out­lined that they are gath­er­ing all the doc­u­ments, ev­i­dence and sug­ges­tions of the Filipino com­mu­nity lead­ers. “This is very in­ter­est­ing. Lead­ers are speak­ing. Democ­racy is at work. Peo­ple are voic­ing out their con­cerns and their sug­ges­tions in a way to give jus­tice to ev­ery­one. We’ve gath­ered all the sug­ges­tions and we will present them to the host govern­ment and the Philip­pines for fur­ther study or con­sid­er­a­tions of their op­tions. It’s up to our cen­tral govern­ment on what to do with this mat­ter. Things will be con­sid­ered in a very pro­fes­sional and com­pre­hen­sive way to give jus­tice to ev­ery­one, not only to house­hold ser­vice work­ers who have been abused but also to other key play­ers in the en­vi­ron­ment,” he ex­plained.

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