65 distressed OFWs from UAE back in PH: DFA
Sixty-five distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), most of whom are victims of illegal recruiters, arrived in Manila from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday under the repatriation program of the Philippine government, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
The latest repatriation brings to 969 the total number of OFWs flown home from the Gulf state since January 2018. Last week, the agency repatriated 51 maltreated Filipinos.
“We welcome home today another batch of 65 distressed Filipinos,” DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.
The repatriation program is in line with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s commitment to Filipinos abroad as mentioned in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“Like what President Duterte said during his SONA, I condemn strongly the abuses being experienced by our OFWs in the hands of their recruiters or employers,” Cayetano stressed. “When these abuses happen, the DFA can be expected to act decisively to protect our kababayan and bring them home.”
The cost of processing of exit passes and the repatriates’ airfare to Manila and to their home provinces were all shouldered by the agency.
Cayetano also expects an increase of repatriates from UAE in the coming months following the amnesty program granted by its government.
“Rest assured the DFA, through our Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Consulate General in Dubai, will assist our kababayan in need in resolving their immigration cases and repatriating them,” Cayetano said.
Of the total 969 Filipinos repatriated from the UAE since January, 777 stayed at the Embassy shelter, while 212 were walk-in clients.
Charge d’Affaires Rowena Pangilinan-Daquipil said the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi continues to work with local authorities to address the concerns of OFWs, especially domestic workers.
“With the signing of the UAE Law for Domestic Workers and the Philippines-UAE Memorandum of Understanding on Labor Cooperation in 2017, the Embassy hopes that incidents of abuse, maltreatment, detention, and other complaints by our domestic workers will decline,” she said.
According to Embassy estimates, more than 600,000 Filipinos live or work in the UAE, most of them in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.