Ma. Victoria Esquivas, an overseas Filipino worker in Qatar, was repatriated recently. Her work contract actually ended last August 2012, but she said her employer had refused to allow her to go home.
She had also learned that her employer did not get her the necessary working permit to make her stay in Qatar legal. She had stayed on, thinking that her employer was working on her permit.
Victoria did not receive her salary. She said her employer had promised she would receive it soon enough. When she continued to inquire about it, as she knew it was her right, Victoria was hurt physically by her employer. Her employer even threatened to put her in jail.
At that point, Victoria was sure that her employer had no plans to give her her salary and allow her to go home. She carefully planned her escape. She got her chance one night, when she was left alone. She saw other Filipinos on the street and asked them to bring her to the Philippine Embassy in Qatar.
Fellow OFWs took her in for the night and the next morning accompanied her to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO-OWWA). Due to her abrupt decision to escape, she was not able to bring her clothes and all her personal stuff.
Embassy officials decided to include Victoria on the list of OFWs scheduled to be sent home. According to Victoria, her employer had confiscated her passport, so the Philippine Embassy issued her a travel document, to serve as her one time travel pass.
On the 26th of March 2013, Victoria arrived in the Philippines. She is set to file a case against Meccaj Manpower Agency. Not allowing her to return to the Philippines is against the law, especially since she had already fulfilled her contract. This in addition to not receiving her salary for the months she worked there.
Lawyers believe the Meccaj agency should compensate Victoria for the salary she lost and for the personal possessions she left behind.
All of the hardships that Victoria experienced in Qatar were very traumatic. She escaped physical as well as emotional abuse. More, her whole life was at stake during her ordeal.
Coming home with only the clothes on her back was torture. What pains her even more was that she was not able to bring even a piece of chocolate for her loved ones as pasalubong.
Bantay OCW will do its best to demand justice for OFWs like Victoria.
Susan Andes, aka Susan K. is on board at Radyo Inquirer 990 dzIQ AM, Monday to Friday 11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon & 12:30-
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