Another Filipina domestic worker, a victim of abuse and maltreatment, this time from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), returned home today to be finally reunited with her family.
Maria Caridad E. Laganzo, 34 years old, worked as a domestic helper in Sharjah, UAE. Her employer, Ahmed Hussein, reportedly abused her physically, after she was suspected of assisting her fellow domestic helper, who ran away from their employer's house.
"Nine months ago, Caridad frantically called her sister who was then working in Japan. She said her employer was threatening to put her in jail after her fellow Filipina domestic helper ran-away and that she was being blamed for this. We immediately informed the Philippine Embassy and the DFA about this to no avail," laments Garry Martinez, Chairperson of Migrante International.
The group finally decided to ask Senator Manny Villar to help Laganzo who readily paid for her repatriation expenses as part of his program to assist distressed OFWs abroad, especially those who want to return to the country.
"Laganzo could still be at the hands of her abusive employer, or perhaps, languishing in jail if we solely rested her fate on the DFA. As many of our cases brought to the DFA, it has done nothing to help Laganzo," said Martinez.
Recently, Undersecretary Esteban Conejos called on Migrante to work with the DFA in addressing the plight of OFWs. He specifically asked the group to coordinate directly to the DFA and provide the agency with complete particulars of the cases.
"Laganzo's case clearly demonstrates that this is merely media hype for Conejos. We have been diligently reporting cases to the DFA for many years and most of the cases have been completely ignored by them. If we solely pinned our hopes on Usec Conejos and the DFA, a lot of OFWs' lives would be in more peril. No thanks to Conejos, Laganzo is now safely reunited with her loved ones," Martinez Added.
Migrante claims that for the first quarter of this year alone, their group has referred about 78 cases to the DFA. Only 17 of these have been allegedly resolved. In 2007 and 2008, they have filed over 300 cases involving more than one thousand distressed OFWs and their families. The cases vary from repatriation cases, the lack/absence of legal assistance for OFWs in death row and detention cells, mysterious deaths, missing persons, and the like.
"We categorically declare that Usec Conejos' call that we should coordinate with the DFA is the height of hypocrisy. It is an empty gesture, devoid of any sincerity and intended only for pogi points," Martinez concluded.