MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Monday (July 5) directed Philippine representatives in Saudi Arabia to take immediate action on the case of a Filipina overseas worker who was raped by her foreign recruiter and abused by her employer there.
Specifically, Bello ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh to initiate appropriate legal steps against the suspects, and impose administrative penalties on the local recruitment agency which deployed the victim.
The OFW identified by the name Michelle was allegedly raped by the owner of the foreign recruitment agency (FDA) and molested by one of her employers before she was repatriated recently.
The Labor Chief directed POLO to take legal action and go after Meshail Mabrook Al Bassani Al Qahtani and employer Abdulaziz Ahlas, owners of Home Comfort Recruitment Office/Home Comfort Manpower Services, for the rape and abuse of the Filipina.
Bello also directed the POEA to penalize the local company SAMA International Recruitment Agency which reportedly ignored Michelle’s complaints and her ordeal in Saudi Arabia.
In his urgent memorandum to Labor Attache Fidel Macauyag, Bello instructed the POLO in Riyadh to work with authorities there for immediate legal action there as the case is cannot be processed in the Philippines “due to lack of jurisdiction.”
“The crime happened outside of the Philippines and the principle of extraterritoriality can’t be applied to the case,” he explained.
Nevertheless, Bello vowed justice to the aggrieved OFW.
“I will do everything possible to help our OFW fight back against her tormentors,” Bello said.
He noted that he already ordered the suspension of the FDA’s accreditation with the POLO.
He also directed Macauyag to coordinate closely with Arab authorities for the filing of criminal cases and prosecution of Al Qahtani and Ahlas.
On the other hand, Bello tasked POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia to probe Ahlas over violations of POEA rules and impose penalties for the sexual abuse committed against the OFW.
The Labor chief also told Olalia to sanction the FDA and Qahtani.
Likewise, he ordered POEA to build up an administrative case against SAMA and suspend the agency to prevent further violation and exploitation of Filipino migrant workers.
Upon her arrival in the country, Michelle went to the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) where she was given legal assistance in the preparation for her sworn statement.
PAO also conducted forensic tests on the OFW which yielded results indicating sexual abuse and injuries.
MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Singapore are not required to get inoculated against COVID-19 before they are allowed into the city-state.
Labor Attaché in Singapore Saul De Vries said that vaccines are not part of the arrival protocols in the city-state but still the government of Singapore is implementing strict quarantine protocols due to the recurrence of COVID-19 cases.
“It is not a condition for OFWs to be inoculated before departing for their jobs. However, the Singapore government requires them to undergo a 21-day institutional quarantine and take RT-PCR test thrice,” De Vries said.
Following the recurrence of cases, De Vries said the Singapore government has temporarily suspended the entry approval applications of foreign workers from high-risk countries.
“Hopefully, such regulation or policy will be reviewed this coming July when cases of COVID-19 infection have slowed down,” he added.
Based on the Labor Department’s records, there are around 200,000 Filipinos in Singapore, 180,000 of whom consist of professionals, skilled workers, household service workers, healthcare workers, and those working in the service sector of the tourism and information technology industries.
De Vries also announced that POLO-Singapore has recently approved over 200 job orders (JOs) for vaccinators with a monthly salary, ranging from 1,800 to 2,000 SGD or equivalent to a little over P63,000.
“Aside from the 200 vaccinators, the demand for household service workers is still high in Singapore,” he added.
While it is not mandatory for OFWs to be vaccinated before they enter Singapore, De Vries said that migrant workers are included in the vaccination program of the government. OFWs are therefore highly encouraged to get inoculated, as this is the best way to fight the spread of the virus.
“I believe that most, if not all, of our OFWs in the healthcare industry have already been vaccinated, since they are included in the priority group listing,” De Vries said.
Despite the scaling down of POLO operations in Singapore, the office managed to distribute financial assistance of $200 or P10,000 under DOLE’s Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program to OFWs who either lost their jobs or experienced wage reduction, as well as those who contracted COVID-19.
Food packs, essential hygiene kits as well as physical and mental health and wellness activities have been provided for migrant Filipino workers especially the distressed ones to help them cope with their daily lives while community quarantines are enforced.
MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III confirmed to UNTV on Friday (May 14) that only one overseas Filipino worker (OFW) did ask for help amid the ongoing tension in Israel.
Bello said the OFW requested to be transferred to the Embassy’s shelter for safety.
“Mayroon lang isa na nagpatulong na mailipat dahil iyong kanyang employer muntik ng ma-bull’s eye ang bahay kaya sa takot nagpa-tulong na milipat muna siya,” Bello said citing reports from Labor Attaché in Israel Rodolfo Gabasan.
[Only one asked assistance and be transferred because [an airstrike] nearly hit her employer’s house. In fear, she asked to be transferred.]
“Kaya kinuha siya ng ating labor attache at inilipat sa shelter na kung nasaan ang mga kasamahan siyang mga kababayan natin,” he added.
[So our labor attache fetched her and transported her to our shelter where some of our kababayans are also staying.]
So far, the Labor Chief assured that no Filipino worker has been injured or killed in the conflict although the situation remains volatile.
“Ang sabi niya [Gabasan] lumalala ang tensyon pero awa ng Dios wala pa tayong nadadamay na kababayan, wala pang nasasaktan, wala pang namamatay,” Secretary Bello said.
[According to [Labor Attache Gabasan], the tension is escalating but with God’s mercy, none of our compatriots have been affected, no one is injured, no one is killed.]
In its Facebook page, the Philippine Embassy in Israel constantly reminds Filipinos in the country to be vigilant amid the uprisings, through a detailed advisory written in Filipino for easier understanding.
The Embassy remains closed but its hotline numbers +972 54 466 1188 will always be open for Filipinos to call in case of emergency.
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