6 November 2013
Sen. Pia: Protect OFWs’ rights amid Saudi visa crackdown
Senator Pia S. Cayetano today said the Philippine government must ensure that the rights of all undocumented Filipinos in Saudi Arabia are recognized and respected in the wake of the Saudi government crackdown against illegal foreign workers.
“The government must stand up for the rights of its citizens, regardless of their employment status. Being illegal workers does not give license to anyone to chain them like animals, humiliate them, and jail them under inhumane conditions,” said Cayetano.
“We must take note that some of our kababayans who are considered illegal migrant workers by Saudi authorities are themselves victims of illegal recruitment. They were hired from the Philippines through POEA-accredited employment agencies to work for registered employers, only to be told later that they would work for a different employer without proper work visa and papers.”
“Just recently on a trip to the Middle East, I met a group of Filipina OFWs who were victimized by their recruiters. They were given different jobs than those they signed up for and agreed upon in their contract. They were being forced to accept the new jobs or be terminated. But once terminated, they are still expected to pay the loans they contracted with their recruiters who deceived them in the first place. It’s a no-win situation for them.”
She cited reports that some deportees have brought home stories of horror and abuse while in jail in the hands of Saudi authorities. Estimates place the number of undocumented Filipino workers in the kingdom at between 65,000 to over 100,000.
She also urged Filipinos who have not complied with the new Saudi regulations to coordinate with our consulates there immediately.
“Beyond repatriating them, I continue to support moves to increase access to education and training for better jobs both here and abroad.” #