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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Migrants group assails slavery of 7 Pinays in Oman

"While the Arroyo administration is busy with schemes for term extension, our Filipina kababayans in Oman who are being enslaved by their Arab recruiters and employers are being neglected by the government!"  This was the declaration made by Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, at a press conference held today at the Cypress cafĂ© in Quezon City regarding the report of another batch of 7 Filipina migrant women victims of abuse and exploitation.

In a span of merely two weeks, the number of cases of violence against overseas Filipina workers steeply rose to 34.

Martinez was pertaining to the complaints of Arniel Hernandez, Marlon Gaje and Nestor Figaroa, husbands of domestic workers in OMAN who went to the office of Migrante to ask help for their wives who are being used as bonded labor by their recruiter, together with 5 other domestic helpers in Oman, after the Office of the Under-Secretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) of the Department of Foreign Affairs sat on their case for two months.

According to the accounts of the men,  their wives, Mary Joy Belmes, Cheryl Gaje and Maribel Calisaan, together with Josephine Bilolo, Siony Jamindang, Lysil Laborte and another woman are currently being held against their will by Hamoud Al Harty, the owner of  Gulf Shield Manpower Services at Madinat Qaebos, Muscat, Oman. After being forced to do odd jobs in various job locations during the day, the seven women are locked up in their rooms. They are allegedly not being fed properly. 

The recruitment agencies of the women are Philtrade International Manpower Services, Euroconsult Agency, and Empleos Incorporated.

"Some of the women have become ill. They live in constant fear," Martinez revealed. "The women even have to hide part of their earnings in their private parts so that it cannot be confiscated by their Arab recruiter."

Martinez further explained that the complainants notified OUMWA as soon as they learned of the plight of their wives but to their bitter disappointment, the agency did not do anything.

"Two months passed without any action by the DFA and the situation of their wives has worsened. The government seems to have totally surrendered its responsibility to protect our women," Martinez stated. "The husbands now want their appeal to be made public and are demanding that government act now to save their wives and the four other women and repatriate them without delay!"

Martinez continued, "The hypocrisy of this government is simply staggering! Its officials, led by the President, are nowhere to be found when our OFWs are in distress even as they glibly praise our 'Bagong Bayanis' to high heavens!"

The group is also demanding that government should immediately provide a solution to the increasing incidence of violence against Filipina overseas workers. According to POEA data, the total deployment for the Middle East in 2007 is 487,878 OFWs, most of whom went to Saudi Arabia. There were 7,463 OFWs deployed in Oman. Domestic helpers, who are predominantly women, are the biggest number of newly hired OFWs. Abuses against them are rampant.

"We are holding the Arroyo administration liable for its labor export program that treats Filipinos as cheap commodities," Martinez concluded. "Government must act now or face the growing wrath of discontented, frustrated and angry OFWs."


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