Friday, July 01, 2005

Arroyo assailed for neglecting OFWs in Lebanon

Thursday, 06/30/2005

A militant group yesterday assailed on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for neglecting Filipinos in Lebanon who had been raped and got impregnated by abusive employers.

In a statement, Migrante sectoral party chairman Connie Bragas-Regalado said President Arroyo, along with her diplomats, had neglected their mandate to protect OFWs in Lebanon.

Regalado added they received reports that 10 distressed OFWs, including a domestic helper, who was raped and got pregnant, are still seeking government assistance for their plight in Beirut. “This revelation was brought about by the arrival of Dina Palangre, 35-year-old OFW, a native of Passi, Iloilo, who was lucky to return home after eight months of suffering at the hands of her Lebanese employer,” she noted.

“We are quite aghast at these developments as justice has not been attained for at least three domestic workers who were killed in Lebanon last year due to the criminal neglect of embassy officials themselves,” she added.

Regalado identified victims Louella Montenegro, Catherine Bautista and Luz Pacu-an were all killed by their Lebanese employers in a span of three months last year. She said only former Ambassador Ramoncito Marino was recalled and given a lower post in a different country. “Palangre identified some of the domestic helpers needing immediate repatriation as Maricel Dema-ala, Monaliza Nodalo, Editha Jabiar, Helen Espiritu, and Quitora Corros-all temporarily sheltered at the Philippine embassy in Beirut, Lebanon,” she added.

“What is Charge d' Affaires Nestor Padalhin doing in Beirut? The Philippine government knows fully well that Lebanese employers treat OFWs like animals, made to work more than 10 hours without sufficient food and not paying their salaries,” she added.

She noted despite the non-existence of social and labor accords to protect OFWs, the current administration continues to deploy OFWs to Lebanon in violation of Republic Act 8042 or the Migrants Act of 1995. The militant leader said OFWs also suffer violations of their rights as foreign workers, are being raped and experience other forms of abuse.

Based on reports, there are at least 30,000 OFWs in Lebanon. “This just shows that Philippine diplomatic officials in Lebanon, and the Arroyo administration for that matter, ceaselessly violates laws and neglects OFWs in distress,” she added. Sherwin C. Olaes

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