Sunday, March 27, 2005

NR0321: Anomalies in RP embassy in Jordan

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release March 21, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Solon demands suspension of RP embassy officials in Jordan; cries out against anomalies in management of OFW repatriation fund

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today sounded the alarm for at least fifty (50) Filipina overseas workers, including two pregnant women and a rape victim, who ran away from abusive Jordanian employers and were stranded at the Philippine Embassy in Amman, Jordan. They have been requesting for immediate repatriation assistance from the said embassy. He also called on Congress to investigate officials of the Philippine Embassy in Amman, Jordan, including the highly questionable practice of returning Filipina domestic workers to abusive employers and recruitment agencies.

Beltran said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stated in a press release dated March 1, 2005, that Philippine Ambassador to Jordan Ruperto M. Dizon is said to have met with Jordan's Border and Residency Directorate-General Mohammed Khalef Al-Jariri on the concerns of OFWs in the said country last February 2005. The dialogue supposedly focused on the processing of residency and work permits, the reporting and facilitation of speedy resolution of OFW cases in Jordan.

"Nothing, however, was mentioned regarding the plight of the 50 runaway and stranded OFWs at the Philippine Embassy in Jordan. It was if the stranded Filipinos were of no consequence," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker said that that abused OFWs who were repatriated by the DFA from Jordan after the intervention of MIGRANTE International point to officials of the Philippine embassy, namely Ambassador Dizon, Consul Aric Arevalo, Embassy Administrative Officer Atty. Edmundo Venturanza and Welfare Officer Evelyn Lanarang as the culprits behind the infamous and inhumane practice of returning distressed OFWs to their respective recruitment agencies in Jordan if they cannot pay for their deployment and repatriation expenses. "These officials should be investigated; but prior to the investigations, they should also be suspended from duty," he said.

"At least two of the said OFWs were forced to return to their respective abusive recruitment agencies on March 20 and 24, 2005. It 's appalling that the Philippine embassy and the DFA, despite the existence of a P100 million Assistance to Nationals (ATN) fund that covers repatriation of distressed OFWs, continue to refuse the distressed Filipino workers' appeals for repatriation. It even continues to pass on the responsibility of repatriation to the distressed families of the abused OFWs by asking them to shoulder thousands of dollars in payment for the said expenses including penalties for overstaying," he said.

"The plight of the abused OFWs in the Philippine embassy in Jordan will get worse with the continued negligence of Philippine officials in the Philippine embassy, DFA and POEA;
There is also basis to say that the POEA has administrative and criminal liability for the continued sending of domestic workers to Jordan despite the government's deployment ban on domestic and unskilled workers to Jordan from 1990 to 2005," he said.

He demanded that the Department of Foreign Affairs to submit a full report on how the P100 million Assistance to Nationals (ATN) fund has been disbursed through the years to determine if it has been actually used for the purpose of assisting our distressed compatriots abroad.

Beltran decried the these actions of officials at the embassy and the DFA, saying that they are in violation of Section 27 of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act No. 8042) that mandates the Priority Concerns of Philippine Foreign Service Posts. Section 58 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 8042 mandates that in all cases where the workers are in need and without means, the OWWA personnel at job site, in coordination with the DFA, shall cause the repatriation of the distressed workers.In 1990, the Philippine government, through Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Memorandum Circular Nos. 29 and 33, series of 1990, banned the deployment of domestic workers to Jordan following reports of unabated maltreatment and exploitation of our nationals;

POEA records show that 3,600 Filipinos worked in Jordan from 1990 to 1995 and 2,928 from 1996 to 2000; indicating that the POEA still deployed domestic workers to the said country despite the ban. To date, according to DFA stock data on OFWs, majority (about 7,000) of the 12,343 Filipinos in Jordan are either irregular or undocumented domestic workers. These include the 50 runaway domestic workers in the embassy in Jordan. The continued deployment of the POEA despite the ban that was recently lifted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) contributed to the continued rise of abused OFW cases in Jordan;


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