PH labor officer in Dubai suspended for allegedly cursing OFW over food aid
MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has ordered the immediate suspension of a Philippine labor official in Dubai after an overseas worker complained of verbal abuse in a viral video.
In a statement late Friday, Bello said he placed welfare officer Danilo Flores of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Dubai under administrative suspension.
The labor chief also directed the investigation into an alleged incident that transpired on April 16 between Flores and an overseas Filipino worker in Dubai which went viral on Facebook.
The said incident supposedly occurred in the course of the distribution of the food aid package for Filipino workers in Dubai and the Northern Emirates who have been displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Bello noted.
In a now-viral Facebook live video, Joy Parafina lashed out at Flores and accused him of cursing at her when she called him to ask on the food packs that were being distributed.
“Isang welfare officer sa Dubai, si Dan Flores ang pangalan. Minura niya ako, tinawag ako na anak ng p*ta, Eto ba? Eto ba ang welfare officer na ilalagay ng gobyerno?” she said.
(A welfare officer in Dubai. Dan Flores is his name. He cursed at me. He called me a son of a b*tch. Is this the kind welfare officer our government will appoint?)
Before this, Parafina said she went to the West Zone Supermarket in Dubai where she received two packs containing five kilograms of rice and a small box as food assistance.
She said she asked the staff who distributed the food aid if there is a receipt showing that the assistance was really worth 200 dirhams (approximately P2,766).
“Galing ako sa West Zone ngayon dahil dun sa OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) na binibigay nila na food assistance na sinasabi nila na worth 200 dirhams” Parafina said.
(I went to West Zone today for the OWWA food assistance they said was worth 200 dirhams).
“Ang sabi nung taga-West Zone, wala daw resibo. Sabi ko ‘Pwede ko po bang matignan kung ano ang loob nito at kung talagang ito po’y pumapasok dun sa amount na 200 dirhams,” she added.
(The one at the West Zone said there’s no receipt. I said ‘Can I have the receipt to see if the items in this box were really worth 200 dirhams?’)
But Parafina said she was not allowed to do so and was advised to just bring the food pack home.
“Hindi po ako pumayag. Ang sabi ko po na once yan ay aking nabuksan na or napirmahan ko na yan, hindi ko na maibabalik pa dahil inaccept ko, inacknowledge ko na, at pupwede nilang baliktarin na baka binawasan ko para magkaron ng anumang issue. Nagtanong po ako sakanila,” she said.
(I did not agree. I said once I take that home and opened it, I cannot return it because I already accepted it and acknowledged and they can say that I took things out to make an issue out of it).
As she talked with the staff managing the food pack distribution, Parafina said she found out that the donations being given to OFWs appeared to be from private donors and not from the government.
Parafina said she then called Flores. The POLO officer denied her claims during their phone call.
“Tinawagan ko po yang Dan Flores…nagmura po at sinabi pong anak daw po ako ng p*ta. Ako na nga daw po ang tinutulungan, ayaw ko pang tanggapin pero nung time po na sinabi ko sa kanila kung ano yung pinaliwagan sa akin ng mga taga-West Zone. Hindi po siya makaimik,” she said.
Posted by Joy Parafina on Thursday, April 16, 2020
(I called Dan Flores, he cursed and called me a son of a b*itch. He said I’m the one already receiving the assistance yet I won’t accept it but when I told him about what I found out, he couldn’t speak).
“Hindi raw po yun totoo, sabi ko iyon po ang sabi saking ng taga-West Zone,” Parafina said.
(He said that was not true, I said that’s what the staff told me).
As of this writing, Parafina’s Facebook video has been viewed over 232,000 times and shared by 16,442 users.
The probe into the incident, Bello said, seeks to determine Flores’ culpability for alleged misbehavior in dealing with the overseas worker.
The labor chief said Flores is currently suspended while the case is being investigated.
Bello then assured the public of the continuing welfare and assistance programs for Filipino migrant workers.
Latest data from the Department of Foreign Affairs showed that a total of 837 Filipinos abroad have contracted COVID-19.
Of the number, 483 are still undergoing treatment while 248 have been discharged from hospitals or have recovered.
There 106 deaths reported so far.
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