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Sugarcane workers rescued from Hacienda Luisita

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, January 6th, 2017

Workers in the sugarcane fields of Hacienda Luisita have been rescued from alleged maltreatment.

More than 50 ‘Sakadas’ or sugarcane workers are now at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) after escaping from Hacienda Luisita.

Most of them were rescued in the last week of December 2016 while some just recently abandoned the area.

“Iba’t-ibang paraan ang ano nila, paano sila makaalis? Kaya po meron mga sinundo. Lumabas sila kasi, ayon sa kanila, kapag gabi naka-padlock,” sadi Danilo Ramos, Secretary General of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura.

(They tried various ways of escaping. That’s why we had to pick some of them up because they claim that the area is padlocked at night.)

They complained of not receiving the promised salary and other benefits such as the Social Security System.

They said that they’ve only received 9.46 pesos to 128.31 pesos for daily wage which is much lower than a farm worker’s minimum salary in Region 3 which is 334 pesos.

They also worked for 13 hours a day from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There are around 800 of them at the Hacienda Luisita but now it went down to around 20 according to a rescued sakada.

Around 160 of them were recruited from Bukidnon while others were from Cotabato and Davao.

“Mag-i-isang linggo na walang dumarating sa amin na pagkain, tuloy doon sa tinatabasan namin ng tubo nanghuhuli nalang kami ng palaka para may makain kami doon sa hirap ng buhay namin doon,” narrated one of the rescued sakadas Roselito Bravo

(Our life there is difficult. There are no supply of food for almost a week so we are forced to catch frog for us to have something to eat.)

The labor violations had been reported to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

The sakadas are also planning to file a criminal case, particularly human trafficking, against the contractor Greenhand Labor Service Cooperative and also to the principal employer Agrikulto Inc. and Central Azucarera de Tarlac.

UNTV News is still waiting for the response of the Department of Labor and Employment regarding the issue. — Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

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OWWA warns recall of agency officials in Kuwait over negligence in Demafelis’ murder

by UNTV   |   Posted on Saturday, February 17th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — Based on the Labor Department’s initial investigation, labor authorities confirmed that OWWA officials in Kuwait failed to act on the case of Joanna Demafelis, the Filipina worker who was found dead inside a freezer in her employer’s home.

In fact, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, Friday, confirmed that OWWA officer Maria Sarah Concepcion was already recalled following orders from Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

“[Maria Sarah Concepcion] was ordered recalled by the Secretary. When Concepcion comes home, there will be a deeper look into this. And there were three communications sent to the welfare officer in Kuwait.  To say the least, they were not acted upon. That is our findings so far and that’s the reason for her recall,” said the Owwa administrator.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) added that there are still other agency officials who are likely to be recalled soon or be relieved from their post once proved that they have been negligent in providing a solution to the increasing number of abuses and murders against Filipino workers in the said gulf state.

“There will be more recalls of our officials there as we go along with our investigation,” said Labor Undersecretary Jing Paras.

OWWA is now looking into other cases of murder against OFWs by their employers in Kuwait.

Meanwhile, regarding his meeting with Kuwaiti officials concerning the murder of Demafelis, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano assured that the Kuwaiti government has expressed its commitment to help in the pursuit and capture of the suspects.

“They said outraged ang gobyerno nila, gagawin nila ang lahat (They said their government is outraged and promises to do everything they can)to bring the accused to justice . Iyong kaniyang  (Demafelis’) death is very tragic but will also be a rallying point for all of the government agencies to be more aggressive abroad in helping our OFWs be protected and also dito (here),” said the foreign affairs secretary. — Aiko Miguel | UNTV News & Rescue


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Bureau of Immigration confirms employed OFWs may return to Kuwait

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, February 15th, 2018

FILE PHOTO:  Returning OFWs from Kuwait arrive in the Philippines.

MANILA, Philippines — The overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) taking a vacation in the Philippines have been allowed to return to Kuwait.

According to Bureau of Immigration spokesperson, Atty. Antonette Mangrobang, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has directed the agency to allow returning OFWs to go back to the Arab nation.

However, the deployment ban on new OFWs remains in effect.

Filipinos with short-term and non-working visas are now also allowed to go back to Kuwait.

“Yung dati nang nagtatrabaho doon tapos umuwi lang dito either nagbakasyon or whatever pero balik-manggagawa po. Pero yung mga first time na mga newly-hired, hindi po talaga sila papayagan,” said the labor spokesperson.

(Those who are already working there and are now in the Philippines either for vacation or whatever, they are allowed to go back. But as for the newly-hired, they will not be allowed.) — UNTV News & Rescue


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DOLE to allow OFWs return only after Kuwait signs bilateral agreement

by UNTV   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) returning to Kuwait will only be allowed to depart after the Kuwaiti government has signed the bilateral agreement with the Philippines.

Bello said that the agreement will provide for a just and sufficient protection for Filipino workers in Kuwait.

“An example is the passport of our OFWs. They or the labor attache should have possession of their passports while they are deployed there. It should not be in the possession of their employers because once their employers got hold of it, they could easily exploit our workers,” said the official. — UNTV News & Rescue

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