OWWA: Philippines negotiating to bring 1,300 Filipinos out of SyriaBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Amid the criticisms the Philippines has received for being silent on the atrocities in Syria, the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration revealed on Thursday, that the government has been trying to bring home 1,300 Filipinos from that strife-torn country.
OWWA chief Carmelita Dimzon said the government has been negotiating with the employers of 1,342 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Syria so that they could return safely to Manila.
“There are about 1,342 who are under negotiation for repatriation. Their release from their employers is being negotiated by the Philippine embassy in Damascus,” Dimzon said during a press conference at the government’s celebration of National Migrant Workers Day at the Philippine Trade Training Center in Pasay City.
“We also have 90 wards in the Filipino Workers Resource Center there and hopefully they may be able to fly home in a few days’ time,” she added.
Dimzon said the government had been able to bring home 1,614 overseas Filipino workers from Syria but only around 200 of them were documented or OWWA members. Most of them were female domestic helpers.
However, Dimzon said many of the returning workers from Syria had availed of the government’s fund assistance being taken from the P2-billion reintegration program.
“Suffice it to say, we have a big number of (applicants) because they want to be self-employed. They have taken the mindset that they no longer want to leave because they want to start they own business here,” Dimzon said.
On the other hand, the government has filed cases against illegal recruiters who sent Filipinos to Syria to work illegally.
Last month, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration filed illegal recruitment cases against nine individuals and recruitment violation cases against 12 recruitment agencies that recruited Filipino workers for Syria.
In a report to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, POEA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac said the POEA assisted 26 OFWs in filing cases against the recruiters.
The deployment of OFWs to Syria was stopped in April 2011 due to the deteriorating political situation in that country.
POEA has also endorsed nine illegal recruitment cases to the Provincial Prosecution Offices of Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Norte, Sarangani, Camarines Norte, Batangas, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Davao City.
The victims identified their alleged recruiters as Aida Pinagayan , Zoraida Salem, Nora Valadi, Fatima Sabulawan, Marlyn dela Cruz, Crislyn Noble, Juliet dela Fuente, Jake Munib, and Olivia Dayao.
The recruitment agencies—most of them either with expired, suspended or cancelled licenses—were identified as HRHA Manpower International, Inc.; Miss Diamond Star International Manpower Services, Inc.; MMM International Placement Corp.; Multi-System Conexions International, Inc.; LFC International Human Resources; RCS Promotions and Overseas Placement, Inc.; MSS Talent Management Services, Inc.; Greengate Manpower Services Co.; and RCS Promotion and Overseas Placement, Inc.
Cacdac has urged other victims who were recruited for jobs in Syria during the ban period to come forward and file appropriate cases against their respective agents.