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Monday, October 25, 2010




Senator Franklin Drilon has asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to rationalize the operations of embassies and consulates abroad, a move that would enable the government to cut expenditures amid a widening budget gap.


Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the DFA should “review” Philippine presence and standards should be put in place that would prompt the establishment of embassies and consulates overseas.


“I would like to think that there was really a substantial number of our compatriots in a particular country that would justify an embassy, because if we say that if there are Filipinos in a particular place, we will put our embassy in every corner of this universe… Given our limited resources, we should rationalize our presence in many countries,” Drilon said.


Drilon was reacting to a statement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo that the main criterion for the establishment of embassies and consular offices abroad is that there are Filipinos residing in that particular country and the economic partnership is substantial.


There are 67 embassies and 23 consular offices and four missions abroad. The “economic diplomacy and political and security issues” are also considered, Romulo added.


Drilon, however, said the Philippines seems like a rich country, with consular offices and embassies “almost in every corner of the world.” He said several countries have a “very minimal” number of Filipinos and the trade is “not substantial” to justify Philippine presence.


“We are not a rich country which can just keep on opening embassies all over the place… It is as if our finances are never ending,” said Drilon during a hearing on the proposed P10.98 billion DFA budget for next year. The DFA’s budget is 13% lower than the P12.74 billion appropriated in this year’s national outlay.


For one, the government maintains three separate embassies in three neighboring countries—Romania, Hungary and Poland, Drilon said. The lawmaker said that there are 377 Filipinos in Romania, 170 in Hungary and 245 in Poland, adding that trade in Romania and Hungary stood at $80 million or about P3.46 billion and $51 million or P2.21 billion in Poland.


Compared with other nations, total trade with the three countries remains minimal, with Singapore at $6.2 billion or P268.2 billion; Malaysia, $3.1 billion or P131.5 billion and Indonesia, $2.1 billion or P91.4 billion.


As for expenditures, the government spends about P57-125 million annually to maintain an embassy in abroad.


Drilon said the government could save hundreds of millions of pesos, if not billions, annually if state presence is rationalized in several countries.


Romulo concurred with Drilon’s observation, saying “we are certainly willing to review the criteria for all of this.”

Group alarmed over OFW who killed self inside plane, says his case a serious concern


Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East, today said it is quite alarming upon knowing that an OFW, on-board Gulf Airlines, who would supposed to meet shortly his wife and other family members killed himself an hour before the plane landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.


According to news reports, Marlon Cueva, 36, of Lubang Island in Mindoro Occidental, worked as an electrician in Abu Dhabi barely 3 months from his deployment. He was among the passengers of GF-154 flight which landed at NAIA Terminal 1 at around 11:20 a.m. citing reports.


His so far is the most saddest of all real OFW struggles of life and death, aside from those who have been victims of abuses, -have been raped and killed,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.


Monterona, who is an OFW himself based in Saudi Arabia, said while normally returning OFWs would be happy that alas they would be meeting their loved ones no matter how hard they have worked abroad, with or without earnings and 'pasalubong', just to be home and be reunited with their loved ones.


Cueva's case is a sad twist of OFWs struggle, a twist that shoched not only the Filipino community and OFWs abroad but the whole Filipino nation,” Monterona added.


Monterona also cited the case of an OFW who dumped her newly born child on Gulf Air's trash bin before the flight landed, as another face of struggling OFW, like many others whose pure intent is to work to give decent living for her children.


These two cases, aside from the 7 to ten cases of abuses, maltreatment, and labor malpractices we have been receiving daily in the Middle East, which we have been consistently reporting to the concerned government agencies and to the public, are serious concerns that needs special attention,” Monterona averred.


Monterona said OFW Cueva's family must be given assistance by OWWA, regardless of his status as documented or undocumented OFW.


“We have yet to see an enlightened government that realizes the need to improve the local economy by implementing genuine agrarian reform program and and a government that will work for national industrialization; both will serve as our country's economic backbone towards sustainable development,” he continued.


Monterona opined like most of our neighboring countries in Asia that have distributed lands to the landless and developed their local industries, the Philippines could follow suit in implementing genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization would create more jobs for the Filipinos who in turn could provide an impetus to economic development that we all aspire.


“It is only then that the government could stop peddling its own human labor as cheap as an exported commodity, there could be no OFWs then as victims of abuses and maltreatment because there would be no one willing to gamble working abroad only to be treated as slaves,” Monterona ended.


No OFWs-receiving country in the Mid-east qualifies 'certification' requirement of the new Migrant workers law -migrant group

If the new Migrant workers law is strictly adhered and implemented there would be no single OFW-receiving country in the Middle East to be issued the required certification so that deployment of OFWs would still continue, thus said today by an alliance of Filipino migrants in the Middle East.


Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona is referring to Republic Act No. 10022 that amended R.A. No. 8042 known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.


R.A. No. 10022, legislated by the Fourteenth Congress during its Third regular Session though then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not act on it, but lapsed into a law on March 8, 2010.


The numerous cases of OFWs abuses, maltreatment and labor malpractices abroad prompted various OFWs groups and migrant advocates to pushed and lobbied for the amendment of the old Migrant workers law (R.A. 8042) with an aim of improving the standards of protection and promote the welfare of OFWs especially those in distress,” Monterona added.


R.A. 10022 will be in full effect on November 1.


The new Migrant Workers law (R.A. 10022) requires the Philippine government to certify that OFWs-host & receiving countries comply with the requirements of the law before the actual deployment of OFWs. These are the same certification requirements imposed by RA 8042, the old Migrant workers law, but were previously ignored.


Either of the 3 criteria should be met for the issuance of the required certification: 1) the receiving country has existing labor and social laws protecting the rights of workers, including migrant workers; 2) the country is a signatory to and has ratified multilateral conventions, declarations or resolutions related to the protection of workers, including migrant workers; 3) the receiving country has concluded a bilateral agreement or arrangement with the Philippine government on the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers.


The criteria are actually pre-conditions setforth by the law to ensure that OFWs well-being, rights and welfare are protected, respected and even promoted while working overseas amid the numerous OFWs cases of abuses, maltreatment and labor malpractices reported abroad especially in the Middle East,” Monterona added.


However, Monterona said upon its initial research it found out that most, if not all, of the Mid-east host and OFWs-receiving countries including Saudi Arabia, which is hosting about 1.2-M OFWs, does not meet the new Migrant workers law criteria for certification as stated above.


Each mid-east country has their own respective labor law, but notably it neither guarantee nor allowed unionism; even labor movements including migrant workers movement are prohibited and not recognized, thus mid-east governments are accused of being anti-labor,” Monterona added.


On the second criteria (the host & receiving country is a signatory to multilateral and international conventions, declarations of resolutions on the protection of migrant workers), Monterona have noted that most Arab states (with the exception of Syria) in the Mid-East have not ratified the United Nations Conventions on the Protection of Migrant workers and members of their Families which has been ratified by 20 states that took effect on 14 March 2003.


The countries that have ratified, as of March 2007, the UN Convention on the Protection of Migrant workers are Argentina, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda and Uruguay.


Notably, states that have ratified the Convention are primarily migrants-sending countries like Mexico and the Philippines.


Failure to get certification, does it mean that the Philippine govt. would stop sending OFWs in Saudi Arabia and other mid-east countries in accordance to the new Migrant workers law? “I don't think so,” Monterona replied.


Though at present the Philippine government has not yet concluded bilateral agreementr any arrangement with any OFWs' host & receiving Mid-east governments on the protection of the rights and well-being of OFWs, the Aquino administration could still work for such agreement if it has the political will to do so,” Monterona added.

Deployment dilemma

If the Aquino administration would be 'lazy' forging a bilateral agreement protecting OFWs, for instance with Saudi government, then it would be facing a dilemma -between continued deployment of OFWs (in countries without the required certification) and its constitutional duty to execute the law,” Monterona added.


Saudi Arabia is No.1 on Top 10 countries of destinations by the numbers of deployed land-basedd for new hires and re-hires with almost 300,000 OFWs deployed last year, citing the 2009 Overseas EmploymentStatisticss by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).


There are about 1.2-M OFWs now working in Saudi Arabia, mostly domestic helpers and construction workers.


In 2009, OFWs from Saudi Arabia have sent a remittance totaling to almost $1.5-M, next to US and Canada. With an increase of OFW deployment, it is expected to reach $2-M remittance by the end of this year.


Other mid-east countries on the Top 10 OFWs destinations are UAE (rank #2), Qatar (rank #4), Kuwait (rank #6) and Bahrain (rank #10).



Migrant group asks Labor dept. to require recruitment and manning agencies to submit list of nominated insurance providers for OFWs


Migrant group asks Labor dept. to require recruitment and manning agencies to submit list of nominated insurance providers for OFWs

A group of Filipino migrant workers in the Middle East today asked the Department of Labor and Employment to require licensed recruitment and manning agencies to submit lists of nominated insurance providers for its deployed OFWs.

On a letter dated 24 October address to DoLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona convey its appreciation when the former recently issued a warning to recruitment and manning agencies not to pass on to OFWs the cost of the required insurance coverage in line with the provision of the new Migrant workers law or Republic Act No. 10022.

“We are hoping that by this statement, erring recruitment and manning agencies are preempted to dupe aspiring OFWs and OFWs alike, and prevent them to circumvent the insurance provision of RA 10022,” Monterona said.

Monterona urges the Labor secretary to require licensed recruitment and manning agencies to submit a list of their nominated Insurance providers in relation to Sec.4, Qualification of Insurance companies, set-forth by the Omnibus Rules and Regulations Implementing the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, as Amended by R.A. No. 10022.

“We believe it is within the regulatory functions of the DoLE-POEA to look into the qualifications of the Insurance companies that have been nominated by recruitment and manning agencies to provide insurance to their deployed OFWs abroad,” the Saudi-based OFW leader averred.

He added requiring recruitment and manning agencies to submit their nominated insurance providers would prevent conflict of interest and possible collaboration between them in circumventing the insurance provision of R.A.10022.


Burdensome compulsory OWWA membership fee

Monterona also raised the issue of OFWs compulsory membership to OWWA. The government charges $25 (equivalent to Php.1,109 on current dollar-peso conversion) to every departing OFWs before issuing the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC).

We are urging your good office to look on the matter of charging OFWs the cost of their membership to OWWA,” he added.

Monterona said like OFWs insurance, the $25 membership to OWWA should not be solely charged to OFWs.

Monterona cited the explanation taken from OWWA website (, OWWA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), which states:

What constitutes OWWA's found source?

OWWA's fund is a single trust fund pooled from the US$25 membership contributions of foreign employers, land-based and sea-based workers, investment and interest income, and income from other sources.

Monterona said it will be a big help to OFWs especially to household service workers and construction workers, who are only earning US$260 to 400 monthly, if the DoLE-POEA would ask their employer through its licensed recruitment agencies in the Philippines to pay for the $25 OWWA membership of its hired worker. (end) # # #



John Leonard Monterona

Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator

Mobile No.: 00966 564 978 012


Migrant group welcomes VP Binay appointment as P-Noy adviser on OFWs concerns

A Filipino migrant rights alliance in the Middle East today said it applaud the move made by the Aquino III administration in appointing Vice President Jejomar Binay as President Aquino’s adviser on OFWs concerns saying “he could provide valuable insights and direction to the President.”

On Saturday, it was reported that Office of the Executive Secretary has already confirmed Vice President Binay’s appointment as Presidential adviser on OFWs concerns. According to the reports, the information came from Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. in a text message to media outlets.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator said to appoint VP Binay as P-Noy’s adviser on OFWs concerns has been OFWs clamor from the beginning since both assumed their respective offices on July.

“It is publicly acknowledge that VP Binay has accomplished fairly good in serving his constituency in Makati; the fact that he has been a local chief executive for quite sometime, he has the vast experience that would be of help to the President, who unlike Binay, has never been in any government executive position, elected or appointed,” Monterona added.

Monterona added, aside from giving valuable insights to the President on OFWs concerns, VP Binay is also expected to provide leadership and synergy in the Executive branch in attending OFWs woes and OFWs worsening conditions abroad especially in the Middle East.

“It is our long-standing demand to the Aquino administration to once and for all to attend on numerous cases of OFWs abuses, maltreatment, and rampant labor malpractices in the Middle East; now with VP Binay as his adviser, we are hoping this is the time for action, after promises have been said,” Monterona averred.

Monterona, however, wonders why it took more than 100 days in office before P-Noy appointed VP Binay as his adviser on OFWs concerns despite popular clamor from OFWs and their families.

“Amid the worsening conditions of OFWs abroad as we have been reporting to the public as a matter of serious concern, it is only now that P-Noy made his first ‘good move’ -appointing an “action man” to attend OFWs woes and concerns,” Monterona lamented.

Monterona said his group hopes that with Binay’s appointment, the President is not just simply “passing the ball on other’s court”, after all VP Binay is also working as his alter-ego.

“With VP Binay as his adviser on OFWs concerns and woes, we expect results from the President like working for bilateral agreements or arrangement with host countries in the Middle East on the protection of OFWs, work for the legalization, if not repatriation of undocumented, distress, stranded OFWs, improvement of OFWs on-site welfare services and programs, repeal of unnecessary government-imposed fees and charges, and review of the anti-OFW OWWA Omnibus codified policies, among many others,” Monterona added.

“First things first, VP Binay should open the communication line between his office and OFWs organizations and institutionalize a system of dialog and consultations among OFWs groups; this is one way of empowering the most vulnerable sector abroad and yet has been contributing much to the country’s economy,” Monterona said.


Distressed OFWs in Saudi arrested for filing labor complaints against employer

The Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS), an affiliate organization of migrant rights group Migrante-Middle East in Saudi Arabia, today said it received request for assistance from fellow co-workers of the 5 distress OFWs who were detained in Riyadh jail yesterday by their erring employer.

Eric Jocson, Chairperson of KGS-Migrante, said the 5 distress OFWs have been apprehended on Saturday afternoon at their company-provided barracks by local police after their employer has reported that they, 13 of them, staged an illegal “stop of work” since last week.

The five are now detained at Old Batha Police station in Riyadh.

But prior to this, the 13 distress OFWs working for  Keytechnology for Furnishing Est. filed a formal complaints at the Philippine Overseas Labor office (POLO) against their employer, a certain Tahir Abdullah Barasain.

“The 13 distress OFWs complained of working for more than 8 hours but have not been paid for their overtime, they were not issued protective personal equipment during work, and forcing them to finish their work or else a 2 days salary will be deducted,” Jocson said.

On 15th September, their employer came to their barracks and forced them to sign an agreement insinuating that they are staging a strike, but the 13 distress workers did not sign.

“Yesterday, at about 2:00p.m., 5 of the thirteen distress OFWs have been apprehended by police including Jerry Garingo and 4 other co-workers,” Jocson added.

KGS-Migrante case officers have already alerted the Philippine Embassy-Assistance to the Nationals section to look into this incident.


On his part, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona, said the 5 distress OFWs should be released from jail, adding that “complaining an erring employer’s labor malpractices do not constitute a violation of the Saudi labor law; it is their employer that should be put behind bars violating their own labor law,” Monterona added.

Monterona said they already talked to the concerned RP embassy officials to represent the 5 distress OFWs with the local police so that they could be released.

“We will not stop our calls to the present Aquino administration to work or ink a bilateral agreement or arrangement on the protection of OFWs with its counterpart Saudi host government and other mid-eastern governments hosting OFWs in the Gulf region,” Monterona ended.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saudi court meted 3 years imprisonment, 600 lashes to 2 Saudi-based OFWs for alleged illegal drug possession



Saudi court meted 3 years imprisonment, 600 lashes to 2 Saudi-based OFWs for alleged illegal drug possession; families deplore RP embassy neglecting their case


An alliance of Filipino migrant rights group in the Middle East today said there are two Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia who have been accused of illegal drug possession and are now detained in Saudi jail after a Saudi court meted out a verdict of 3 years imprisonment plus 600 lashes.


The family and relatives of the two OFWs have sought assistance to Migrante after the Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) allegedly refused to provide legal assistance by hiring a local Shariah lawyer for their defense citing an insufficient assistance fund as reason for its refusal to render assistance for the two troubled OFWs in Saudi Arabia.


John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said the request for assistance came from the families of the two detained OFWs who went to Migrante International office in Quezon City on October 13.


Monterona said OFWs Jason and Salvador (not their real names) have been deployed by Al Jazira Manpower Services sometime on January 2006 and August 2009, respectively. One of them is an architect and the other is a tile setter. Both have maintained their innocence on the accusation and charges against them.


The two OFWs have been working in Hail City, part of Saudi’s central region and about 800 kilometer far from Riyadh, until they have been apprehended for alleged illegal drug possession.


According to the victims’ families, on July 30, 2010, the two OFWs were arrested by Saudi police who have raided their company-provided accommodation. The police have entered into their room, searched and seized some of their personal belongings, then handcuffed the two after the police pulled off allegedly a sachet of heroin.


Monterona cited the signed affidavit issued by the families to Migrante which they claimed that the 2 OFWs have never been assisted by RP embassy officials and without legal defense during a series of case hearings.


On October 4, 2010, the Saudi’s lower court issued its verdict finding the 2 OFWs guilty of illegal drugs possession.


“They have been sentenced to 3 years imprisonment plus 600 lashes,” Monterona citing the OFW brother of one of the victims who is also working in Saudi Arabia during a phone conversation.


Monterona said based on the circumstances of this case, which they have gathered, studied and investigated, the 2 OFWs could be innocent on the charges hurled against them; “it appears that the 2 have been framed up,” he added.


“But what is condemnable is the absence of legal assistance provided by the concerned RP embassy to the 2 OFW victims; often the lack of legal assistance fund is cited as justification why there is no local lawyer hired for the defense of the accused OFWs and others on a similar case,” Monterona averred.


“We won’t buy this “no legal assistance fund” alibi, as there are enough un-used funds for the legal assistance of OFWs at the Department of Foreign Affairs as previously revealed by DBM Sec. Butch Abad amounting to 52.6-M and 67.7-M balances of legal assistance funds from 2009 and 2010, respectively,” he added.


Monterona said this is again a clear case of neglecting distress OFWs who have been in jail and accused of illegal drug possession punishable by death, and yet there is no legal assistance provided and no RP embassy personnel to attend scheduled case hearings.


“We won’t be surprised at all if the OFW victims would be imprisoned or even meted death after a series of case hearings without lawyer on their defense, though they are innocent on the crime charged against them. Such government neglect is unpardonable!” Monterona continued. 


Meanwhile, Monterona cited the case of Rose Jane Mahilum who was arrested in Masshad, Iran in mid-June 2010 and detained for allegedly carrying 1.675 kilos of heroin.


“This is another case where the RP embassy in Iran failed to attend on her case hearing that is scheduled on 13 October 2010,” Monterona said.


Migrante International Rights and welfare committee (RWAC) had sent an email dated 12 October to the RP embassy in Iran informing them of the October 13 scheduled case hearing of Ms. Mahilum and requesting the post to provide legal assistance and representative during the hearing upon the request of her family.


Migrante-Middle East inquired to the concerned RP post and it was known yesterday that nobody from the RP embassy in Iran attended on the said case hearing. (end) 



Monday, October 11, 2010

Citizens' Disaster Response Center announces winners of ABKD poster-making contest; Zoren Legaspi's son receives an award

The Citizens’ Disaster Response Center (CDRC) has awarded the winners of the annual nationwide poster-making contest entitled “APOY, BAGYO, KALAMIDAD: DIBUHONG PAMBATA (ABKD) 2010”.

Each of the twelve finalists, children aged 7-12 years old, received a cash prize, plaque and a gift during the awarding ceremony at the Citizens’ Disaster Response Center Conference Room last Friday, October 8.

Major prizes for Category A (7-9 years old) went to Abigail Grace R. Tamayo of Divine Light Academy in Cavite, and Kathya Marea M. Palles of Little Jesus Learning Center in Laguna.

The poster with the title "About Fire" by Zoren Legaspi's son, Maverick Peter Legaspi of Reedley International School, was chosen as one of the finalists for Category A.

For Category B (10-12 years old), the major winners were: Trisha Co Reyes of St. Stephen’s High School in Manila, and Lea Anne R. Rulloda of Manila Science High School in Manila

Since 1996, ABKD has served as a venue for children to show their creativity and artistic talents, as well as express their views and concerns on disaster-related issues.

In its initial staging, ABKD has only attracted the participation of more than 50 children aged 7-12 years old. The years that followed showed a consistent rise in number of entries and participants. This year alone, more than 500 entries were submitted from all over the country, attracting the participation of both private and public schools.

This year’s contest was sponsored by Diakonisches Werk, and Sarah Lee Philippines.

The winning artworks will be featured in CDRC’s 2011 disaster preparedness calendar, planner and other advocacy materials.




Abigail Grace R. Tamayo, Divine Light Academy, Cavite (Environmental Destruction)

Kathya Marea M. Palles, Little Jesus Learning Center, Laguna (Volcanic Eruption)


Zarah Juliya C. Tabacon, Celestial Village Academy, Marikina (Typhoon/Flood)

Maverick Peter Legaspi, Reedley International School, Quezon City (Fire)

Kajem W. Kitma, Baguio Pines Family Learning Center, Baguio City (Landslides/Trashslides)

Eleanor Iskra Castellon, Immaculate Concepcion Parish School, Quezon City (Earthquake)




Trisha Co Reyes, St. Stephen’s Highschool, Manila (Climate Change)

Lea Anne R. Rulloda, Manila Science High School, Manila (Fishkill)


Kaye D. Alimento, Salvacion Elementary School, Davao del Norte (Epidemic)

Brigette V. Ayson, Betty Go-Belmonte Elementary School, Quezon City (Climate Change)

Jamia Mei Tolentino, St. Stephen’s High School, Valenzuela City, (War)

Trisha Co Reyes, St. Stephen’s High School, Valenzuela City (Drought)


Photo News : Protesta ng Migrante members sa Al Khobar, KSA sa ika-100 araw ni P-Noy sa Malacanang


Contributed by John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator







Migrant group demands deployment of a highly qualified career diplomat for vacant RP ambassadorship in Riyadh


An alliance of Filipino migrant rights group in Saudi Arabia today said they prefer to have a career diplomat to replace the outgoing RP ambassador in Saudi Arabia saying “OFWs in Saudi Arabia deserve a career diplomat with strong credentials and plentiful experience on various OFWs woes and concerns.”


'We wish good luckkkkk to Ambassador Antonio Villamor for his 3 years and 8 months of service to the OFWs in Saudi Arabia, though OFWs have expected more from him that he failed to met,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.


Ambassador Villamor is a political appointee of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and was re-assigned as RP ambassador to Saudi Arabia upon his supposed retirement on December 2006.


Monterona said if President Aquino III is true to his promised of change in the decadent government system extending it in various diplomatic post abroad, he must start it by deploying career diplomats rather than appointing political allies for various RP posts abroad.


“The 1.2-M OFWs in Saudi Arabia deserve genuine service from the government that is heavily dependent on the billions of OFWs remittances in keeping the economy afloat; OFWs deserve 'pay back' from P-Noy rather than his political allies by sending senior career Ambassador,” Monterona averred.


Monterona said for 4 decade now since deployment of OFWs in the '70's, OFWs in Saudi Arabia have long been deprived of genuine service, on-site services and welfare programs that would alleviate the deplorable conditions of OFWs mostly domestic and construction workers as the most vulnerable among OFWs sectors.


He said the 7–10 OFW cases of abuses and maltreatment, aside from illegal recruitment cases, Migrante chapters in the Middle East have been receiving daily is a serious concern that the government must seriously looks on.


A highly qualified career diplomat, as Ambassador in Saudi, first job is to ensure that OFWs' well-being, rights and welfare will be protected, and this cannot be bargained,” Monterona ended.



Distress: OFWs in Jordan staged protest


57 distress OFWs in Jordan threaten to stage protest anew, migrant group calls on RP post to attend their repatriation


After getting the report confirmed about 57 distress OFWs who have staged a protest last Saturday inside the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) managed by the Philippine Embassy in Amman, Jordan, an alliance of Filipino migrant rights group in the Middle East calls on the concerned RP embassy officials to closely follow the cases of the 57 OFWs so that they could be repatriated without further delay.


Migrante-Middle east regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said he was able to talk with a Philippine Embassy staffer, who has requested not to be named, confirming that on Saturday the 57 distress women OFWs initiated a protest action by throwing their belongings inside the FWRC.


“The 57 distress OFWs have been staying for quite some time inside the FWRC after they run away from their employers who claimed that they have been abused and maltreated; since they have sought refuge at the RP post’s resource center,” Monterona said.


Monterona said he was able to talked to OFW Rita (not her real name) over the phone yesterday and confirmed that they started their protest last Saturday in the afternoon as they became too impatient for their repatriation, “most of us have been staying for more than 6 months and other nearly year at the FWRC,” OFW Rita told Monterona.


“After throwing their belongings, the distress women OFWs have attempted to go out of the FWRC building, trying to get the attention of the local immigration police, by doing so they are hoping that the latter would apprehend them and then sent them to the immigration office for deportation,” Monterona added.


Monterona said during his conversation with OFW Rita it was found out that they have agreed to submit their case to Jordan government special committee which will investigate their respective cases. 


“But it is taking time, kaya nai-inip na itong ating mga distress OFWs. They threatened to stage a hunger strike if their calls will be ignored by the RP officials in Jordan,” Monterona claimed.


Monterona suggested in cases like these involving a considerable numbers of distress OFWs, the DoLE through the Philippine Overseas Labor Attache’ must consider talking to his counterpart of the host government to come up with diplomatic solutions that would benefits both parties.


“These are not simply cases of breach of the host government immigration law; the 57 distress OFWs ran away to escape from their employer’s abuses and maltreatment, running away is the only option that they have,” Monterona averred.


“We are urging the RP Embassy and the POLO in Jordan to push for the resolution of their cases. For sure the 57 distress OFWs are longing that they would celebrate Christmas and could start a brand new life in the new year to come,” Monterona added. 


Monterona is also calling on the attention of the OWWA to provide the needed airfare tickets for the 57 distress OFWs as well as for those stranded and distress in various Filipino Workers Resource Centers in the Middle East especially in Saudi Arabia.


“The thousands distress and stranded OFWs in the Middle East are still waiting in vain the promised assistance from the Aquino administration, but since it slashed the government budget for the assistance to the nationals and legal assistance fund, we are worried that it could not fulfill its promises for OFWs protection and better on-site services,” Monterona ended. 


Based on Migrante’s conservative estimates there are still more than 3,000 stranded and distress OFWs staying in various resource centers managed by the different RP posts in the Middle East.