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Bantay OCW (Ang Boses ng OFW)

Beaten, detained and starved

/ 12:15 AM February 23, 2014

Twenty-seven-year-old Irene dela Virgen appeared at the studio of Inquirer Radio with tales of the horror she suffered in Saudi Arabia. She was detained, beaten, starved and received no salaries from her three employers.

Bantay OCW initially got the complaint through an overseas call from Irene’s aunt, Marilyn, who is based in Athens, Greece.  Her husband Mario from Nueva Ecija, together with Marilyn’s daughter Lejani, then  sought the assistance of our program. We endorsed them to the office of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration administrator Hans Leo Cacdac for the necessary filing of Irene’s case.

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POEA immediately ordered Raysa International, the agency that deployed Irene, to send the distressed overseas Filipino worker an airline ticket and bring her home. The order warned that noncompliance within 15 days would result in a suspension of the agency’s license to operate.

Irene had recounted her ordeal in the hands of her employers in Saudi. According to her contract, processed at the POEA, her employer was Mohammed Abdullah Abdulazis Salimi.

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Upon her arrival at the Salimi residence, the wife, who is a teacher, instructed her to proceed to her room and to just stay there. For four days, she stayed in the room without food or drinking water.

On the fourth day, Irene was transferred to a second employer, the “Madame’s” fellow teacher. During the first two days, she was not given food. On the third day, she was given a small piece of bread and a cup of coffee. The second employer would bring Irene to the homes of her friends and make her work for about 3-4 hours. She stayed with the second employer for five days but did not receive any salary.

The second employer transferred Irene again to another fellow teacher, her third employer. Unlike her previous employers, this one allowed her to eat once a day—bread and coffee but only in the evenings after a hard days work.

Irene convinced herself she could survive on just bread and coffee if only to finish her contract with the third employer. But she stayed there for only one month. Twice she was brought to homes of relatives of her employer to work.

During that time, Marilyn from Greece was able to connect with Bantay OCW. Raysa agency reasoned out that starvation was part of Irene’s training as an OFW in Saudi Arabia.

Irene had no knowledge that her problem was being acted upon in the Philippines. She was surprised that the third employer brought her back to the home of her second employer, where she was beaten and held by five persons: her Madame, her three children and a fellow OFW named Nerva. They apparently already knew that Irene had filed a complaint against them.

Eventually she was turned over to the original Madame, the first  employer who brought her straight to the airport. The local agency in Saudi had reportedly instructed the woman to let Irene go home because of the complaint lodged at the POEA.

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Irene said a provincemate and another woman who went to their house and enticed her to work abroad. She was promised that there would be no deployment cost and she would not spend a single centavo for her application. She thought it was a very timely offer and immediately grabbed the opportunity to help her husband earn a living.

But they eventually had to take out a loan of P7,000 which counting interest is now up to P20,000.

Irene was crying for justice. She had suffered in the hands of her inhumane Saudi employers. Deputy Administrator Jesus Gabriel Domingo assured Bantay OCW the case would be given priority for the early scheduling of hearings.

* * *

Susan Andes, also known as Susan K., can be heard over Inquirer Radio dzIQ 990 AM, Monday to Friday, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon. Audio/video live streaming is at www.ustream. tv/channel/dziq. Helplines: 0927-6499870/ 0920-9684700

E-mail: [email protected]/ susank [email protected]

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TAGS: abuse, Irene dela Virgen, OFW, overseas Filipino worker, Saudi Arabia
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