Press Release
January 6, 2009

Go after illegal recruiter of 4 stranded OFWs in Thailand,
Gordon asks gov't agencies

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today ordered various government agencies to go after the recruiters of four Filipina-Muslim workers who were promised a job at Bahrain but were stranded in Bangkok, Thailand.

Gordon made the directive to the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Office (OWWA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

"The POEA, OWWA and the NBI should help these individuals and they have to do something about it because this has happened a lot of times already," he said.

"We have to take care of our people. Before our people leave the country and go abroad to work, the government agencies concerned must do their part in ensuring that these workers have proper documents and that they have coordinated with the POEA," he added.

Gordon said the four overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)--Harnea Sanduyugan, Guiamela Esmael, Norhata Mentol and Nhoraisa Asi--sought help from the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) after they were stranded in Bangkok with no money for a plane back home.

He said that according to the victims' statements, they were stranded at the Bangkok airport because they had no plane tickets to Bahrain. They had plane tickets back to Manila but they were not able to use because the tickets were not paid.

Out of the four victims, who all natives of Cotabato City, Mentol was the first to arrive at Bangkok on Dec. 21, followed by Sanduyugan and Esmael on Dec. 22 and the last was Asi on Dec. 23.

Gordon, chairman and chief executive officer of the PNRC, said that after the victims suffered hunger and the cold weather for several days and spending the holidays in a foreign country, they decided to seek help from the PNRC so they could come back home.

He added that the victims expressed fear against their recruiter Alex Omar, reportedly a member of the Philippine Army in Kabuntalan, Maguindanao, after they were told that they will have to pay P60,000 each if they would come back to the Philippines.

"These Filipinas have experienced suffering in a foreign land. As chairman of the PNRC, it is my duty to alleviate their suffering that is why I coordinated with Red Cross volunteers in Bangkok to help them. Today they have arrived here safely," Gordon said.

"However, in my capacity as a senator, I have called on the POEA, OWWA and NBI to work on the cases of these victims and not only go after the recruiters but also implement measures that would prevent the same incident from happening again," he added.

In November 2006 Gordon aided the repatriation of at least 240 OFWs from Kazakhstan who wanted to escape being caught in the middle of a bloody conflict between Kazakh and Turkish workers there. Gordon immediately tapped his contacts to help the trapped OFWs.

Also in November 2006, the senator urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to ask the Lebanese government to tell its citizens to refrain getting the passports of OFWs and preventing them from fleeing Lebanon as it is their human right to escape being caught up in the middle of a war.

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