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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Erring Welfare Officer advises Pinay to jump from building, OFWs to press charges in OWWA


Newly repatriated women OFWs trooped back to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to file formal charges against a RP Welfare Officer in Saudi who advised their colleague to jump from the 3rd floor of their accommodation to get away from her abusive employer.

The OFWs, who were formerly caregivers of Annasban Company, joined their colleague Merlinda Aquino who just arrived back a few days ago, in filing formal charges against Welfare Officer Nestor Burayag for grave misconduct and neglect of duties.

 "Tinawagan ko si Mr. Burayag para magpasaklolo dahil hindi ko na matagalan ang pang-aabuso ng employer ko sa akin. Pero sinabihan niya lang ako na tumalon mula sa 3rd floor n gaming building para daw may dahilan para matulungan niya ako," said Aquino. Merlinda decided not to follow the advice because it may cost her life.

Aquino lamented that she was being continuously physically abused by her site manager since January. Her mobile phone and ATM were also confiscated. She reported the offenses to the company management but no action was taken. She was hoping to be rescued upon informing RP officials of her plight, particularly Burayag, but all they did was encourage her "to commit suicide" by jumping from the building.

Aquino originally planned to join the work-stoppage as she was also a victim of the company's gross contract violations. Her wages were also cut and made to work for long hours without pay. But because of fear and hopelessness due to the "government's inaction" she decided to keep a distance.

Earlier this month, the OFWs have already called on OWWA officials to recall Burayag for neglecting his duty to secure with the Annasban management exit visas for their release and forcing them to pay a huge amount for repatriation. Until now no action has been done by Administrator Carmelita Dimzon. Burayag remains in his post while more than 30 women workers are still locked in the company's barracks.  

"Burayag's attitude reflects the Arroyo administration's general mis-conduct toward OFWs. They really do not pay attention to the well-being of our kababayans. In truth many of them connive with foreign employers such as Annasban in subjecting Filipino workers in dire conditions. Kalakal ang turing sa OFWs, hindi tao. Habol lang nila ang kita na makukuha mula sa pagsasamantala sa aming lakas-paggawa," said Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International.

Migrante challenged the new regime under President-elect Noynoy Aquino to probe and sack erring officials and reorient OWWA to be a genuine service institution. The group also urged Noynoy to scrap the OWWA Omnibus Policies, an "anti-migrant" policy unilaterally imposed by the Arroyo administration. ###   

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