Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Philippines: 37 domestic workers who defied deployment ban back from Lebanon

By Tina G. Santos, Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 18th, 2011 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday reminded prospective overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to respect the total deployment ban to Lebanon and other countries.

The DFA also continued to warn Filipinos intending to work abroad to steer clear of illegal recruiters.
This was after 37 OFWs were repatriated from
Lebanon where they were employed as domestic helpers despite a ban on the deployment of OFWs there since 2007. The workers arrived in Manila on Wednesday afternoon via Qatar Airways from the Middle East.

The OFWs were not identified but the DFA said majority of them had worked in Lebanon in defiance of the total ban on sending Filipino workers to that country.

“Of the 37 repatriates, only five were documented and who arrived in Lebanon before the deployment ban in 2007,”  DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said.

“Majority of the group escaped from their employers for abuses such as unpaid salaries, maltreatment, verbal abuse, overwork, lack of food, forcible extension of contract, illegal reduction of salary or lack of salary increase, refusal of employer to renew the worker’s legal papers, and sexual harassment,” Hernandez said.

The government paid for the OFWs’ airline tickets, using the Assistance to Nationals Fund.
Prior to their repatriation, 36 of the returnees were sheltered by the Filipino Workers Resource Center, a facility attached to the Philippine Embassy in Beirut. The 37th was detained at Lebanon Immigration’s Retention Center in Adlieh, Beirut.

In 2007, the government declared a ban on the deployment of OFWs to Lebanon due to the security situation and inadequate legal protection for workers in that country.

Despite the ban, many Filipinos still managed to travel to Lebanon and work there illegally, circumventing the restriction by first flying to a third country before proceeding to Beirut, often with the help of unscrupulous recruiters.

Last month, 29 illegal OFWs were repatriated from Lebanon.

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