Desperation and naivety push OFWs to grapple with certain problems abroad – Manila bulletin

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FORUM OFW

June Concepcion

More and more Filipino women are moving abroad to work despite the high chances of experiencing hardship and getting a rough deal in their destination country.

This is the case, for example, of women who wish to work in Russia from the Philippines, Hong Kong and various countries in the Middle East. Lured by monthly salaries of up to US $ 1,500-2,000 or up to P100,000 a month, they reject almost all caution in their mad and thoughtless race for a monthly salary far beyond their reach in the Philippines. . Unless and until they are extremely fortunate, this astronomical salary is often only accessible to a select few individuals in the country, including senior executives of private companies and middle-ranking government officials. government.

Exchanges in an OFW Facebook discussion group focused on jobs and life in Russia reveal the sorry, disturbing and even pathetic state of mind of dozens who want to join the big money race in that country. Some have expressed their wish to remain in Russia despite the difficulties in obtaining visa extensions which are in fact reserved for visiting foreign businessmen and professionals, and not for foreign nationals. Others have raised doubts about whether or not to entrust large sums to recruiters, presumably illegal, but the former have nevertheless indicated their willingness to go to Russia at all costs.

Scores, who portray themselves as leaders of the Filipino community in Russia, take a deplorable and nonchalant stance despite being aware of the dangers for first-time illegal OFWs wishing to enter this country. Some alleged community leaders coolly and recklessly consider that newbies should know better than to proceed at their own risk with their plans to enter and seek employment in Russia.

Due to their illegal status in Russia, some hapless OFWs constantly fear being accosted on the streets or in train stations by rebellious police officers, punished, imprisoned and, in extreme cases, sexually assaulted. Despite harassment, extortion and sexual assault by scalawag police officers, the victims did not dare to press charges against the culprits and sought help from the Philippine government due to their illegal status in Russia.

About five years ago, a senior official at the Philippine Embassy in Moscow told the writer that most of the approximately 4,000 Filipinos engaged in domestic help work in Russia were illegal immigrants. There was then no work visa for foreign domestic helpers. The situation today remains unchanged. This renders all Filipinos currently engaged in domestic help work in Russia as illegals as their temporary stay depended on “business” visas or tourist visas which prescribe a brief period of stay in the country.

Much like Filipinos seeking entry into Russia and those already there, other Filipinos, like single mother and former Hong Kong OFW Janice M, are oblivious to the risks of taking a job in the Middle. East. But pushed by extreme pressures and difficulty caring for four children on her own, she ignored stern warnings of dangers from close friends. She is now awaiting her long-awaited departure to Saudi Arabia. “Bahala na si Lord sa akin (I leave everything to the Lord),” she said in response to suggestions from friends who suggested that she return to Hong Kong instead, where she would be much safer and better off. at work than in the Middle East. .

Obviously, many outgoing OFWs are oblivious and they even ignore advice to be selective in their choice of overseas destination, lest they face considerable risk of physical abuse, rape and even killed in the Middle East. Unfortunately, OFWs to Russia take a similar stance.

To remedy this problematic situation and strengthen government protection for outgoing OFWs, relevant government agencies, in particular the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, should consider adopting the following measures:

1]Intensify and expand multimedia campaigns to inform outgoing OFWs from specific countries where the incidence of abuse is high, such as Saudi Arabia, and where work visas for OFWs are non-existent, notably Russia

2]Undertake a regular multimedia campaign, not just a one-off publication on the POEA website or sporadic advertisement to strengthen assistance to outgoing OFWs

3]The government should revamp and radically change ineffective strategies and actions against illegal recruiters and human traffickers, including individual operators

4]If 5 or more complaints are made against specific agencies or individuals, these complaints should be made public to caution job seekers about the subject of the complaints.

5]The operating licenses of agencies should be immediately suspended if a significant number of complaints, ie 5 or more, are brought against them. The initial suspension can last for 10 business days, but must be extended immediately until complaints are addressed.

6]Individual recruiters or human traffickers should be summoned to the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate to respond to complaints from victims of recruitment.

Contact the writer at [email protected]


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