Press Release
May 27, 2009

26 distressed OFWs return from Qatar

NACIONALISTA Party president Manny Villar expressed relief over the arrival of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Qatar who sought his assistance due to labor problems. Villar said one of the OFWs, Orlando Barazon, is his former driver.

The OFWs informed him last week of their homecoming in separate flights: one arrived on May 21; two OFWs, Romel Panaligan and Eduardo Baro, on May 25; Arthur Hernandez, Nicky Aguilon and Danilo Javier today (May 27); and 20 others are set to follow.

Originally consisting of 35 workers, the group earlier wrote the senator, "Since we started work, our salaries have been always partially given, until such time when we were not getting any for almost three months. Our families in the Philippines have nothing more to eat." The OFWs left for abroad in three batches. The last batch consisting of eight and led by Joselle Gacuya, arrived in Qatar on Oct. 7, 2008.

On April 17, Villar issued a statement urging government action on the plight of the 35 beleaguered OFWs who were all working for an interior decorating and furnishing outfit.

The senator endorsed their case to the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, which facilitated their repatriation.

Aside from Barazon, Panaligan, Baro and Gacuya, the 35 OFWs also include Mar Ignacio, Felipe Dichoso, Erwin Dolor, Allan Delarea, Gregorio Masangkay, Michael Pedrezuela, Bernie Baclas, Arlan Falogme, Peter Sakballon, Danilo Javillonar, Joselito Dichoso, Emmanuel Bautista, Jonathan Javier, Arceo Galibio, Danilo Genova, Sulpicio Ubando, Almar Ramos, Berlin Sedurante, Adelio Ruanto Jr., Marciano Dichoso, Richard Ravelo, Michael Aque, Alberto Reyes, Jimmy Rivera, Ramil Manito, Joemar dela Cruz, Rene Antonio, and Reiner Sala. Of the 35 OFWs, 26 appealed for repatriation while the rest wanted to stay in Qatar to look for new jobs.

The repatriated OFWs will meet at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration on June 1 to file charges against their employer and agencies.

Villar has set up the Sagip-OFW helpline to give distressed OFWs a venue to air their plight for timely assistance, while pushing for conducive economic conditions in the country to expand opportunities as a long-term solution.

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