October 17, 2021
MIGRANTE International denounces the blatant disregard of the Duterte government for our distressed migrant women workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who are in urgent need of temporary shelter.
On October 14, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia released an advisory declaring that it would suspend admission of female OFWs who are being “surrendered by their employers due to health and safety concerns” into its Bahay Kalinga shelter. The Office has further given instructions to employers to contact their OFW’s respective Foreign Recruitment Agency (FRA) to provide for the OFW’s accommodation needs.
The POLO-run Bahay Kalinga shelter for women migrants was established to provide a safe haven for distressed OFWs who are in need of assistance from the Philippine government. By suspending admission, the Duterte government has outright abandoned its mandate and responsibility to protect our vulnerable women OFWs who experience different forms of abuses, maltreatment, non payment of wages and other working contract violations by their employers.
Our distressed women migrant workers will now be forced to only take refuge from their foreign recruitment agencies, many of whom collaborate with exploitative employers and commit rights abuses such as confiscation of cell phones, being prohibited from contacting their families and being “sold” to another employer by their agencies, instead of addressing their grievances and concerns. It is like throwing our distressed women migrants to the lions den!
Instead of expanding the number of POLO shelters in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where there are countless women OFWs in constant need of temporary shelter for their protection and safety, the Duterte government has chosen to deny them their rights to access welfare services.
We challenge our government officials who are running in the 2022 election to show your true sincerity to the plight of our OFWs by calling to immediately lift the suspension and set up additional temporary shelters to serve more of our distressed women OFWs in Saudi Arabia. ###