Press Release
October 9, 2007


As he lauded the planned airing of advertisements that will promote a more humane treatment of domestic helpers in Saudi Arabia , Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. today lambasted the apparent negligence of the Philippine Consulate in Dubai on the case filed by a maltreated Filipina against her employer who has a record of physically abusing her house helpers.

Revilla expressed disgust over the ordeal of 29-year-old Saida Guiambrang, who was hospitalized in Dubai , United Arab Emirates (UAE) after a desperate escape from her abusive employer.

Guimbrang severely injured her left foot when she jumped from the three-storey apartment of her Moroccan employer in Deira, Dubai last year, just to escape from abuse she said she could no longer take. She arrived in Manila last August 23 and had already filed a complaint against her employment agency, Bridgewood Human Resources Corporation, located in Malate, Manila . She is undergoing continuous treatment at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

The victim, accompanied by former OFW Sarah Balabagan, visited the senators' office last week and lamented that her case was not given proper attention by the Philippine Consulate in Dubai , particularly by a certain Zenaida Alonzo whom she said even castigated her for filing a case against her employer. "Sabi ko nga sa iyo huwag ka nang mag-file ng kaso," Guiambrang quoted Alonzo as saying.

"Guiambrang's allegation against our consulate in Dubai must be given proper attention by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment. If this is true, it speaks of the incompetence of our representatives overseas. It buttresses reports that instead of providing refuge to our countrymen, they become a source of demoralization for our OFWs, especially for those who suffer maltreatment in the hands of their employers. It's rubbing salt to the wound," the lawmaker said.

It was learned that prior to Guiambrang's ordeal, her employer also hired a Filipina domestic helper who fractured both her hands also after trying to escape.

According to the Dubai-based newspaper Emirates Evening Post, the Philippine Consulate said Guiambrang's employer has hired ten housemaids in the past year, from the Philippines and Indonesia , and all of them ran away due to ill treatment.

"It's very disappointing that the Philippine Consulate already knew of this employer's record of maltreating her house helpers, yet did not do anything to prevent it from happening again. They could have issued the necessary advisory to the concerned departments and agencies here in the Philippines . They should have recommended the employer to be banned from hiring Filipino domestic helpers," said Revilla.

The Senator sent a letter to the Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration (OWWA) and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) urging the agencies to properly address Guiambrang's case.

The DOLE reported that UAE is fourth in the top OFW destinations with 82,039 documented OFWs recorded last year, which is 19.96% higher than the 68,386 OFWs deployed in the said country in 2004.

Revilla welcomed the plan of an advertising agency in Saudi Arabia to air public service commercials that would encourage kinder treatment of domestic helpers, including Filipino maids." It would be better if other Middle East countries such as the UAE will have similar advertisements to curb violations against OFWs, particularly Filipino women which comprises 70% of more than 8 million OFWs working in more than 192 countries," said Revilla, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media and member of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor Employment (COCLE).

Based on news reports, one of the pro-maid advertisements shows a typical gathering of women having a meal and the hostess telling her Filipino maid- named Rahma, or "mercy" in Arabic-to "get out my sight." It will be aired on Arab satellite televisions after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, expected to end on Friday, October 12.

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