OFWs Complained of Contract Violations
Monday, 13 July 2009
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Fr. Allan Arcebuche, OFM, for reasons of his own, sent the Editor of HEROES an article from Migrante Middle East Press Release on the 18th of March 2009. This article is entitled “51 OFWs deployed in Libya decry contract violations and substitution”.
Fr. Allan, sender of the “funny” article
On the 6th paragraph of the said article it stated; “According to the 49 OFWs, they were asked to sign a blank contract during their departure at NAIA by their recruitment agency aside from the contract that was certified by Philippine Labor Attachẻ Nasser Mustafa.”
Now let us analyze this statement:
First, these 49 Filipino adults signed a contract that they have observed to be blank, actually what they signed as per information from the 13 who sought refuge in OWWA, it was not a blank sheet of paper but a similar contract where no figures were placed.
Second, they knew it was going to be a contract as explained to them by the agency representative, and;
Third, they were also aware that there was already a contract fully certified by the Labor Attachẻ from Tripoli that they have already signed.
1. Was a gun placed against their heads in order to sign it? NO!
2. Considering that there were actually more than 300 of them, had not one single person asked why they
have to sign it when there was already a perfectly legitimate contract that they have signed?
3. Presuming that they were threatened with refusal to board the plane or some such threat, why
did they not inform the POEA which is located just a door or two away from the Departure
4. Or presuming that they were already inside the airport, it is still possible to go out and inform the POEA,
or it is still possible to call someone, one of their relatives who may have accompanied them at the airport
to inform the POEA, or call the POEA directly to make a complaint, can they not? Yet no one did.
5. Would it be possible that no one out of the 300 had a mobile phone to be able to call anyone? Possible
but highly improbable. It has been the Filipino practice to call everyone, or someone at the last minute so
that a cell phone is mandatory even inside the plane where the Captain or the crew had to ask
everybody to put off their phones.
6. So who should be blamed for this very clear contract violation?
Certainly the recruitment agency, the employer and come to think of it, the foolish signatories themselves!
The reason they gave why they signed it was because, first, it happened past midnight when they were already leaving for the airport;
Second, they have already borrowed and spent money for recruitment fees so they may be able to come to Libya, and;
Third, the desire to finally achieve what they wanted after two or three months of waiting made them throw all cautions to the wind.
All 300 were hardly able to think coherently with the imminent departure so tantalizingly close at hand, and with only a signature to bar them from finally achieving the dream.
A situation of vulnerability that the recruitment agency is very much aware of and exploited.I am in full sympathy with the plight that our fellow OFWs had suffered. But let this be a lesson to each and everyone of us. In the final analysis, it was your own hand that placed you in this mess. Let us accept the blame as much as apportion it because difficult as it may be to accept, it is the unpalatable truth.
It is easy to say that the recruitment agency is to blame, that is true enough. And of course that it cannot happen without the say so of the CIFEX Company is also true. But because you have become victims does not mean that you have not allowed and cooperated in victimizing yourselves.
The last act of betrayal was still your own, however noble the reason, the intention and the justification. It is when you refuse to become victims that you will not become one.
And here is the funny part! In the succeeding paragraph, the author blamed the recruitment agency but not the employer. Neither did he blamed the misguided signatories but, lo and behold, he blamed the Labor Attache.