OFWs in Hong Kong want rude labor attaché fired

Hong Kong-based OFW groups United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-Migrante-HK) and the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) expressed anger and indignation over the rude treatment of a labor attaché towards an OFW in distress.

Agnes Tenorio, a first-time domestic worker in Hong Kong, sought the help of the Philippine Consulate Genneral last September 29 after her contract was illegally terminated by her employer barely two hours after she arrived at her employer’s house. She was referred there to Labor Attache Romulo Salud.

Confused and unaware of her options, her initial reaction to the experience was to go back home to the Philippines. Labatt Salud did not give her advice nor informed her of her rights and instead conveniently agreed to her kneejerk request.

She, however, learned afterwards from other OFWs and the MFMW that, under law, she is allowed to file claims for her unpaid wages at the HK Labor Department as well as complain her employer for illegal termination of contract. With these new knowledge at hand, Tenorio went back to see Labatt Salud on October.

Below is the full transcript:

Labatt Romy Salud: Ang ayaw ko sayo, ito ha… (inaudible) ang sarili mo. Nagpunta ka dito nagpaasikasong kang umuwi agad. Kaya ayaw kitang pagkatiwalaan, eh. Hindi sa ayaw kita ha? Ang ugali mo. Una, nagpunta ka… Hindi ba? Nagpunta ka dito, hindi ba? Gusto mo ng umuwi. [What I don’t like about you… You went here asking us to assist you in going home immediately. That’s why I don’t trust you. Not that I don’t… Your Attitude… First, you came here… You came here, right? You wanted to go home.]

Agnes Tenorio: Natatakot po… [I was afraid.]

RS: Inasikaso namin ang iyong … [We were fixing your…]

AT: Sir, me karapatan naman ako [Sir, I have a right.]

RS: Anong karapatan? Wag mong gagamitin sa akin ang karapatan. Ako, me karapatan din ako. Wag mong gagamitin ang salitang karapatan ha? [What right? Don’t use the word “right” to me. I also have rights. Don’t use the word “right”, ha?]

AT: Hindi po. Nung unang una… saklot ng takot ng una akong pumunta dito. [No. During my first visit, I was really afraid when I went here.]

RS: Wala ako. Sinasabi naman sa yo eh. [I am telling you…]

AT: Hindi ko po alam yung may karapatan ko na magfile ng labor. [I did not know that I have a right to file a case at Labor (department)]

RS: Wag mong gagamitin yang karapatan. Dahil karapatan ko rin… kung tatanggapin kita o hindi. Wag mong pagdidiinan mo sa akin yang karapatan mo ha? Ang lahat ng karapatan ay me responsibilidad. Tandaan mo. [Don’t use the word “right”. Because it is also my right if I am going to accept you or not. Don’t use the word “right” on me, ha? All rights have responsibilities. Remember that.]

AT: Hindi ko naman din po kasi alam nung una yung pwede pala akong magfile ng labor. Karapatan ko rin naman siguro kahit papaano tignan yung karapatan kong makakuha kahit konti… [I did not know at first that I can file a case at Labor. I think it is also my right to get even a portion…]

RS: Karapatan ko ring magsabi sa yo kung ano ang dapat mong gawin o hindi. Karapatan ko rin kung magsabi dito…. [It is also my right to tell you what to do and what not to do. It is also my right to say here…]

Attached also herewith are the press releases and statements of UNIFIL-HK, MFMW and Tenorio and the OFWs’ letter addressed to Department of Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz.

For her part, Migrante Secretary-General Gina Esguerra supported calls to recall Salud. “Let this serve as a lesson to all erring and negligent government officials. Walang karapatan itong si Salud o sinumang kawani ng gobyerno sa mga embahada na tanggihan, bastusin at pabayaan ang ating mga OFW, lalo na’t sila ay nangangailangan. They also have the responsibility to inform them of their rights and options at hindi iyang gumagalaw lang to their convenience.”

Esguerra said that cases like these are “not new.” “We have received numerous complaints against labor attaches and embassy officials and personnel but sadly none have been sanctioned. What they do when the complaints become resounding is either they transfer them back to the Philippines or to another post.” Salud was formerly an official of the MECO in Taiwan.

Esguerra said that they are studying possible charges to file against Salud and other erring and negligent embassy officials. ##