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Monday, February 12, 2007

Stranded Pinoys in Lebanon Still Traded, NGO Says


QUEZON CITY—FILIPINO workers, mostly women, in Lebanon are still being traded for new employees after getting sidetracked from work when fighting broke out in September, advocates said.
Echoing the report of Catholic congregation Daughters of Charity Sister Amelia Asiedu-Torres, nonprofit Kanlungan Centre Foundation Inc. said migrant workers unable to flee during the shooting war between Israeli and Hizbollah fighters are being sold to other employers.
“The agencies …still make business on them by selling them to another employer at a higher price,” Kanlungan staff Ma. Helen T. Dabu said in a forum here, quoting Sr. Asiedu-Torres of the Beirut, Lebanon-based nonprofit Afro-Asian Migrant Center.
Dabu revealed the results of Kanlungan’s policy research on Filipino women migrants in Lebanon after workers were caught in the middle of fierce fighting there last October, leading to frenzied evacuation of a tenth of an estimated 30,000 Filipinos in that territory.
The research results packaged in an 11-paged Powerpoint presentation was timed as the first topic in a lecture series honoring Kanlungan founder Ma. Virginia Alunan-Melgar. Alunan-Melgar founded the nonprofit group in 1989 when trends bare an increasing number of women going out of the country and the abuses employers heaped on them than male Filipinos’ mostly labor-related cases.
Dabu said they talked by overseas call to Sr. Asiedu-Torres November 28 on the eve of the presentation of the research in Quezon City.
She added the Roman Catholic nun said that the center receive telephone calls from a minimum of seven migrant women a day, expressing a gamut of problems at the hands of their Lebanese employers.
“They have finished their contracts but the employers would not let them go home,” Dabu said of what Sr. Asiedu-Torres told her.
She added that the salaries of Filipino women migrants there –at US$100 (P5,000 in US$1=P50 exchange rates) monthly– are withheld from a period of three months.
“Some employers bluntly tell them that they cannot go home because no one will replace them,” Dabu said.
“Most of these girls [sic] are very timid to discuss matteres with their employers so at one shout of the employers they just withdraw and cry,” Dabu quoted Sr. Asiedu-Torres as saying.

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