There is no labor attaché in the Philippine Overseas Labor office (POLO) in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia for more than two weeks now, thus said today by a migrant rights group.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said Labor Attache David Des Dicang was transferred to Kuwait more than two weeks ago after DoLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz ordered the recall of a labor attaché assigned in Kuwait allegedly involved in human trafficking of distress and run away OFWs seeking refuge at the Filipino Workers Resource center.
"A week after he left Saudi Arabia, I was able to talk with Labatt Dicang and he confirmed that he will be officially transferred to Kuwait. I asked him who will be his replacement, he replied that he is not privy to who will be deployed as PH labor attaché covering the Saudi's eastern region," Monterona added.
Monterona said more than two weeks now since Labatt Dicang left to Kuwait, "there is no labor attaché in Al-Khobar amid the numerous labor cases and request for assistance to the POLO-Eastern region."
Yesterday, officers of Migrante-Al Khobar arranged a case dialog with OWWA welfare officers, but no officials from the POLO-ERO attended. Several labor cases such as contract substitution, salary down grading, illegal salary deductions to illegal termination and non-issuance of exit clearance have been discussed without the presence of a labor attaché, who usually is giving direction and guidance being head of the POLO.
"Today, I was informed by distress OFW Julius Tormis, et. al. that despite the promised by the POLO-OWWA to send an interpreter in today's case hearing, no POLO staff assisted them," Monterona added.
"How could the POLO-ERO serve the needs of the OFWs especially distress and those who have labor cases when there is no labor attaché who is heading and directing it?" Monterona asked.
Monterona calls on DoLE Sec. Baldoz to immediately appoint and deploy a labor attaché in its office in Al-Khobar whose jurisdiction covers the entire eastern region of Saudi Arabia.
There are around 350,000 OFWs working in Saudi's eastern region including Al-Khobar and Dammam.