Press Release
April 21, 2008

Villar brings home maltreated OFWs

A child and eight Filipino workers who suffered maltreatment from their employers in Jordan have been repatriated back to the Philippines.

Nacionalista Party President Manny Villar announced this today after receiving communication from the Embassy of the Philippines in Amman, Jordan stating the repatriation of eight workers and a child housed at the Filipino Workers Resource Center there.

"I am pleased to announce that nine Filipinas, mostly under-age, will be reunited with their families in the Philippines," Villar said.

In his visit to Jordan in October last year, Villar intervened for the repatriation of OFWs in distress, especially the under-age who complained of maltreatment against their employers. He agreed to shoulder almost US$6000 for the plane fare of the OFWs. "The OFWs are among the increasing number of Filipino workers who sought refuge in the embassy after experiencing maltreatment and harsh condition from their employers," he said, adding whenever he has the chance to go out of the country, he makes it a point to visit Philippine embassies to check on the condition of OFWs in different parts of the world. Villar cited the condition of one of the returnees, Rowena Manalo, 29, married with two children. She arrived in Amman in 2006. She ran away from her employer due to alleged maltreatment and insufficient food. Villar lamented that illegally recruited workers were able to exit the country through the "escort system" in the airport and by using passports with assumed or spurious data.

He learned that illegal recruiters take advantage of minors from poor areas like Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato who were born at home and were unable to accomplish the Certificate of Live Birth.

"Illegal recruiters facilitate the issuance of a 'Delayed Registration of Birth Certificate,' and from there, they manipulate the date of birth to make the minors older and qualified for a job abroad," Villar said.

Earlier, Villar urged immigration officials to tighten its effort and stop the continued operation of syndicated human smugglers in the country who endanger the lives of Filipinos working abroad.

The Senate president said he has developed deep concern for OFWs as early as 30 years ago.

"Noong ako ay nagsisimula pa lamang, puro OFW ang aking nakakasalamuha sa aking napiling hanap-buhay," he said.

OFWs who arrived are 1) Rahima Isla, 17, (Parang Bacolod, Cotabato City); 2) Noraisa Tagta, 17, (Parang, Maguindanao); 3) Marhana Daud, 13, (Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao); 4) Hanan Kuit, 17, (Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao); 5) Asniah Ulama, 14, (Datu Montawal, Maguindanao); 6) Alibai Makapending, 17, (Buluan, Maguindanao); 7) Rowena Manalo, 29, (Novaliches, Quezon City); 8) Jeanelyn Martinez, 28, (Bacolod City); and her child, 9) Jeanil Martinez, 2.

They will arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal I via Thai Airways flight no. TG 620 at 1:35 pm.

In the letter, Consul General Renato Villa explained that due to unresolved legal cases, two other workers, Fatima Empal, 17, of Pigcawayan, North Cotabato and Guiarhata Diadel, 17, of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, were prevented from boarding by the airport immigration police in Jordan.

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