By Roy Mabasa
A total of 99 overseas Filipino worker (OFW) repatriates from Abu Dhabi arrived safely in Manila Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has reported.
According to the DFA, majority of the repatriated OFWs were illegally recruited via social media and entered United Arab Emirates (UAE) with tourist visas. A number of them left the Philippines through major airports while others passed through seaports in the Southern Philippines and arrived in the UAE through neighboring countries.
Many distressed OFWs claimed that as soon as they arrived in the UAE, they were locked up by their recruitment agencies to be later “sold” to various employers to work as household service workers (HSWs).
Lacking the necessary screening or training for household work, many claimed that they were being maltreated and overworked, or paid lower than the agreed salary. These conditions prompted them to abscond. Others were asked to pay an exorbitant amount for the “recruitment fees” incurred by the agencies or employers.
Those who managed to escape apparently sought help from Philippine government agencies in the UAE and were housed in the shelter provided by the Philippine embassy until they were cleared by relevant authorities to return to the Philippines.
The DFA said those repatriated were provided with tool kits to help them start over with their lives. A welfare assistance of $100 was also extended to each of the returning OFWs.
There is a de facto ban on the deployment of HSWs to the UAE after the cessation of the verification of HSW contracts in December 2014. The ban was set in place to protect OFWs.
In September 2017, the Philippines and the UAE inked the Agreement on Domestic Workers.