Advocacy group Migrante International on November 19th staged a picket in front of the department of foreign affairs (DFA) building in Manila to call on the government to facilitate the repatriation of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The rallyists brought to the DFA’s attention the case of 100++ OFWs in Jordan, mostly women and some as young as 14 years old, who have been awaiting repatriation for as long as two years now.
The Jordan 100+ OFWs were all victims of human trafficking and sought refuge in the POLO (PH overseas labor offices)-Jordan after they escaped their employers due to maltreatment, non-payment of wages, sexual and physical abuse and harassment and slave-like conditions.
Based on accounts of the OFWs and their families, most of them were able to enter Jordan via HongKong, Malaysia and Dubai to evade the existing deployment ban to Jordan. When they entered Jordan, however, their employment contracts were authenticated by the POLO in Jordan.
Among the picketers was Melith Ante, herself a victim of human trafficking and one of the more fortunate who was able to come home. Her sister, Lenen, is one of the more than 100 OFWs who are still on hunger strike at the POLO-Jordan (Philippine Overseas Labor Offices).
“The case of Jordan 100+ highlights that though there is a law and existing government mechanisms against human trafficking there seem to be a lack of political will and resources to fully address the cases. There are also reports of immigration and government officials who are coddlers of trafficking syndicates but so far none have been prosecuted,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.
“Umalis kami ng bansa kahit na kapit sa patalim para lamang mabigyan ng mabuting kalagayan ang aming mga pamilya sa gitna ng kahirapan dito. Mas masakit pa sa naranasan namin sa Jordan ang malaman na hindi namin maasahan ang ating gobyerno sa mga panahon ng kagipitan. Ang hiling lang namin ngayong darating na Pasko, makasama namin ang aming mga mahal sa buhay,” said Ante.
Now there is the nagging question on how many of these migrant workers are from Bicol or of Bicol descent?