Press Release
July 7, 2014

Villar SIPAG to give livelihood help to 5 more OFWs

FIVE distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who opted to stay in the country, are the latest beneficiaries of the livelihood assistance from Senator Cynthia A. Villar and the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (SIPAG).

Those who will receive financial help and livelihood opportunities are Riza San Pedro, 21, of Bocaue, Bulacan; Jenlyn Gonzales, 28, Lumban, Laguna; Merry-Ann Barbosa, 30, Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City; Madelyn Villanueva, 26, Tibig, Bulacan and Sheron Lumague, 38, Bacoor, Cavite.

The Senator will provide financial and livelihood assistance to the five OFWs during a meeting at the Senate on Monday, July 7, 1:30 pm.

"We are committed to extend help to our troubled OFWs and their families. We realize that our government cannot do it all alone, and this is our way of contributing to the gargantuan task of easing the burdens of our OFWs in distress," noted Villar.

Recognizing their significant contribution to the country's economy, Villar has not faltered in providing our OFWs financial and other assistance like helping in their repatriation by giving them plane tickets.

The senator has been advocating for the rights and protection of our Filipino migrant workers. The five OFWs, who were all victims of illegal recruiters and traffickers, returned to the country after suffering maltreatment in the hands of their employers. One of them was also rescued from a prostitution den.

Susan Ople of the Blas Ople Center brought the harrowing ordeal of the five OFWs to the attention of the senator and sought her help for them to start a new life.

San Pedro, a high school graduate, is looking for help to fulfill her dream of getting a college diploma.

San Pedro and Barbosa, who were both recruited to work as singers in Malaysia, were instead forced into prostitution.

Upon her arrival in Malaysia on May 3, 2013, San Pedro recalled she was brought to Dream Paradise Spa, detained in one room with other recruits, given a reference number and threatened with physical harm if they will disobey their employer's order.

To avoid being prostituted, she pretended to be sick and contacted her mother for assistance. She was rescued by the Malaysian Police. She returned to the Philippines on September 21, 2013.

Barbosa was allowed by her employer to go home when she sought the help of her mother after being compelled to become a prostitute.

Through the Ople Center, she filed illegal recruitment and human trafficking charges against her employer who in turn, charged her with estafa. She is currently being tried at the Pasig Regional Trial Court.

Barbosa stressed she needs livelihood support to enable her to pursue her quest for justice against her employer.

Gonzales no longer wants to work abroad after being maltreated by her employer in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. For the one and a half years working as domestic helper, her employer also paid her only P8,000 or less than half the salary indicated in her contract.

She was repatriated to the country on March 13, 2014 through the help of Ople Center. She wants to put up a mini sari-sari store to support her daily needs.

Both Villanueva and Lumague escaped from their employers in Oman and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, respectively.

While escaping, Villanueva fell down from the second floor of the building of her employer February 4, 2014 and was unable to walk for a month. She arrived in the Philippines last April 22, 2014.

Despite undergoing therapy, she has difficulty walking. She's begging for possible assistance because she can't find a job due to her condition.

Lumague, a single parent, also encountered difficulties in landing a job after arriving in the country last April 27, 2013.

She absconded from her employer's house in Saudi Arabia, and stayed at Bahay Kalinga for two months.

She complained of having no time to rest and sleep because she worked from morning until the next morning.

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