Institute for National and Democratic Studies

Secretary of Justice Told to Shut Up on Vecina’s Blood Money in Kuwait

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Press Release Ramon  Bultron (Managing Director of APMM)

Secretary of Justice Gonzales should shut his mouth or face the wrath of the migrant workers in Kuwait and worldwide. His proposal that Filipinos working in Kuwait should contribute “blood money” for the release of May Vecina because of the rice crisis is uncalled for and bespeaks of his ignorance on the conditions of migrant workers there.

Did the Justice Secretary utter even a word when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her large entourage made a recent junket to Hong Kong in the midst of the rice crisis?

Secretary Gonzales should also know that Filipinos who were raped in Kuwait and all those who needed legal assistance from the Embassy had to shoulder their own legal expenses there even if the Assistance to Nationals should provide this for free. The Philippine Embassy says that the amount in hiring a lawyer for such cases is KD3500 (US$13,212). In 2006, 98 Filipinos were raped in Kuwait.   

Other than this, even Labor Attaché to Kuwait Leopoldo de Jesus admitted that his office has no money to provide for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose labor cases would need to go to court. That is why he is dissuading OFW’s not to complain in Kuwait’s local labor bureaus as this may take a long time, they would probably be ejected from their dormitories and this may be elevated to the courts and the OFWs would need to shoulder this on their own.

The Embassy has even no shelter for male OFWs who need such assistance especially if they have pending cases against them or against their employers. At present the shelter houses more than 180 female Filipinos who ran away from their employers because of various abuses committed to them by their employers.

In 2006 the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait reported that 4,225 Filipino household workers ran away from their employers. And supposedly last year, this was 30% less or around 3,000. This was due to physical, mental, and sexual abuse; non-payment and/or delay of salaries; and other abuses.

Would the justice secretary now ask the OFWs themselves to contribute for the food and other requirements of those in the shelter? In practice this is already happening as the POLO and even OWWA regularly solicits foodstuffs and other needs of the residents in the shelter from Filipino organizations and religious groups there even if OWWA has P10 billion revolving funds.

And how much do the OFWs earn in Kuwait? Newspaper reports indicate that 82% of the OFWs in Kuwait are domestic workers. Most OFWs still earn from KD40 (US$151) – KD60 (US$226) a month. Even other service workers are also paid very low salaries. Starting wage for those working in Sheraton hotel is 75KD (US$283); for caregivers in Al Essa 70KD (US$264) + 10KD (US$38) food allowance; Filipino cleaners in KGL at 60KD (US$226); and gas boys in OULA with the same wage.

The Philippine government can not even implement the POEA’s policy that household service workers should get a minimum of US$400 (KD107) a month. And conveniently the Philippine Embassy has blamed the OFWs themselves in Kuwait for this by accusing them of accepting salaries lower than the one required by the POEA.

Next time, we suggest that Secretary of Justice Gonzales should think first before opening his big mouth. It is not coincidental that he uttered his comments on April 1 and shows how foolish he is. He should tender his resignation together with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Migrante – Kuwait
 
==============================
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
G/F, No.2 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

Tel. no.: (852) 2723-7536     
Fax no.: (852) 2735-4559
General E-mail:  apmm@hknet.com

Other Email Addresses:
Managing Director :             director@apmigrants.org / rbultron@gmail.com
Advocacy Program :            advocacy@apmigrants.org / rbultron@gmail.com
Research and Publication:  publications@apmigrants.org / ahc@hknet.com
Women’s Program :            women@apmigrants.org / ecbuhay@gmail.com

WEBSITE: www.apmigrants.org

“We dream of a society where families are not broken up by the urgent need for survival.
We dream and will actively work for a homeland where there is opportunity for everyone to live a decent and humane life.”


==============================
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
G/F, No.2 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

Tel. no.: (852) 2723-7536     
Fax no.: (852) 2735-4559
General E-mail:  apmm@hknet.com

Other Email Addresses:
Managing Director :             director@apmigrants.org / rbultron@gmail.com
Advocacy Program :            advocacy@apmigrants.org / rbultron@gmail.com
Research and Publication:  publications@apmigrants.org / ahc@hknet.com
Women’s Program :            women@apmigrants.org / ecbuhay@gmail.com

WEBSITE: www.apmigrants.org

“We dream of a society where families are not broken up by the urgent need for survival.
We dream and will actively work for a homeland where there is opportunity for everyone to live a decent and humane life.”

See Petition Letter: petition-letter-on-vecina.doc

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Written by INDIES

April 4, 2008 at 6:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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