Migrante International on Monday decried the Duterte government’s criminal neglect of OFWs languishing in an overcrowded OWWA shelter in Pasay City. OWWA’s office in Pasay now serves as a shelter for repatriated migrant workers but OFWs can be seen on the video clip fuming over their current situation.
Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion said, “The wretched state of OFWs at OWWA’s shelter is completely the opposite of what the Duterte government has been telling people in the media. It is painful to see newly arrived OFWs suffering from harsh government neglect. Over 400,000 OFWs are expected to return home in the coming months due to COVID-19. If the government had the impudence to neglect a little hundred OFWs in OWWA, how much more with the hundreds of thousands who are set to return home? The Duterte government’s inutility is truly appalling and shameful!”
After undergoing orderly precautionary measures with the help of Kuwaiti authorities before their return to the Philippines, OFWs from Kuwait found themselves neglected in OWWA’s main office in Pasay City. A facebook video showing deplorable conditions at OWWA’s headquarters has been circulating online.
At the beginning of the clip, one OFW was seen speaking before others telling them that they could have just simply subjected each one of themselves to self-quarantine in their respective homes. “Kung dito tayo lahat, delikado. Baka magkahawaan tayo. (It’s not safe for all of us here. We might get infected.),” he said.
“Galing po kaming Kuwait. Naka-isolate kami sa Kuwait lahat lahat. Inaasikaso kami.. tapos pag dating dito sa Pinas,..sa OWWA shelter, ganito yung nangyari sa amin, dikit-dikit kami parang sardinas. Tapos hinalo pa kami sa iba galing Dubai, galing Korea, lahat lahat po. So there’s possibility na mahawaan kami. Ito ang ginagawa sa amin ng OWWA ngayon. (Paraphrased: We came from Kuwait. We were isolated and taken care of but when we arrived here in the Philippines at the OWWA shelter, we were packed like sardines and mixed with those who came from Dubai and Korea, so there’s a possibility that we will get infected.),” the person recording the video rued.
“Pagkain kulang, tubig wala. Diyos ko!, (Food is scarce, there’s no water. My God!)” the OFW exclaimed. Outside the male sleeping quarters, female OFWs can be seen sleeping in the hallways. One can be seen lying down on a board of plywood.
“There’s a possibility,..isang positive dito, maging positive kami lahat, (Par: There’s a possibility that if one gets positive, we will all get positive)” the OFW fears.
The OFW then pleaded, “nanawagan po kami kay Ma’am Mocha Uson. Ma’am Mocha Uson, sana aksyonan po. Sana matulungan kami, makauwi kami sa kanya-kanya naming probinsya. (Par: We call on Mocha Uson to take action. Help us get back home to our respective provinces.)”
Just last month, OWWA revealed that it conducted a meeting with the local government in Pasay to secure hotel accommodations in the city for OFWs. “OWWA even offered to pay the expenses for the food and accommodation of returning OFWs. Were these all pronounced merely for the sake of propaganda? They’re deceiving OFWs with empty promises! Citing the imposed curfew is a flimsy excuse. If they managed to take them to the OWWA shelter amidst the curfew, there should have been no problem transporting exhausted OFWs to their hotel accommodations. If the hotels in one city are not enough, why not broaden coordination with other cities. Poor planning on their part is unjustifiable.” Concepcion assailed”.
Decrying state negligence, Migrante International challenged OWWA and the Duterte government. “We call on OWWA to take swift action and listen to the pleas of our dear OFWs. Ensure mass testing for all returning OFWs; provide free services and adequate quarantine facilities for them,” Concepcion concluded.