Tuesday, October 26, 2004

NR1026:Retrenchments in RP embassy in Saudi

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release October 26 , 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Email: paggawa@edsamail.com.ph, anakpawis2003@yahoo.com
Celphone number 09213907362
Visit geocities.com/ap_news

Rep. Beltran questions DOLE plans to replace RP embassy staff in Saudi; says
GMA austerity measures not being applied in RP offices abroad


Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today called attention to reports that
beginning 2005, the 40 labor staff of the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia
will be replaced by new labor staff and officials from Manila who are expecting
to receive US$1,600 per month, or US$600 more than what the locally hired
administrative staff received.

According to reports by the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, the decision to
retrench the current staff and replace them with new ones was pushed by the
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) with the full concurrence of
Malacanang.

Beltran said this move exposes the DOLE's indifference to the real issues
confronting Filipinos in Saudi, and the Arroyo government's double-standards
when it comes the implementation of its so-called austerity measures. He said
that the move was "arbitrary" and would only serve to "derail the work" of the
current embassy workers who have at least gained headway in exposing the
situation faced by overseas Filipino workers in Saudi.

Beltran pointed out that Filipinos in Saudi Arabia need better-experienced and
committed interpreters and case officers, not "highly paid officials who do not
even have the experience of working in the Middle East."

He questioned the DOLE's arbitrary lay-off plan, saying that there has been no
thorough performance evaluation or assessment conducted concerning all present
labor staff in the Embassy, or of the embassy itself. He said that only a after
a thorough assessment of the performance of the embassy and its staff should
replacements be made, especially among the ranks of the inept officials.

"There are countless complaints coming from OFWs in Saudi, which the DOLE, the
Department of Foreign Affairs and the Arroyo administration have not given
sufficient response to, much less resolved. "OFWs in Saudi need all the support
and assistance they can from the Philippine government. The services of the
embassy to the OFWs in Saudi leave much to be desired - for instance, there
should be more case officers looking into and assisting OFWs who run afoul of
their employers who exploit their economic welfare, or even abuse their human
rights as in the case of Filipinos working as domestic staff. "The Philippine
embassy in Saudi should employ more staff who will attend to the needs of OFWs
in distress."

Beltran echoed the call of OFWs saying that if there's anyone who should be
replaced, it should be Labor Secretary Patricia Sto Tomas and Ambassador
Bahnarim Guinomla."The feedback on the performance of these officials have
been highly negative. They have proven to be inefficient and ineffectual when
it comes to protecting the rights of OFWs. The situation of OFWs in Saudi and
other countries continues to worsen, and our Kababayans are often forced to go
without the slightest help from the Philippine embassy," he said.

Beltran said that labor staff and officials should dare to conduct regular
visits of Filipino workers in the remote dessert areas in Saudi Arabia and
those who are languishing in jail. There are around 900,000 Filipinos in Saudi
Arabia and 1,115 are in jail and among them are 50 minors. There are also 13
Pinoys who are in death row according to a report released by the DFA last
August.#


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