Shelter for runaway OFWs bursting at the seams
There are now 244 Filipino women at Bahay Kalinga (BK), the shelter for runaway maids. This number is twice the capacity of the shelter — 120.
The shelter is run by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh (POLO-Riyadh).
“To solve the problem, the reception room and other empty quarters have been converted into sleeping areas. This is inconvenient for them, but what can we do?” a reliable source told Arab News on Friday.
According to the source, another problem confronting the caretakers is the fact that POLO-Riyadh also has to take care of some 80 stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) at a separate accommodation in the capital.
“It is good that the home office and the Philippine Embassy have been supportive. The embassy pays the rent for the accommodation,” the source said.
But what exacerbates the problem as far as the stranded female workers are concerned is the fact that there has been no clear-cut procedure in repatriating them.
The source added that the old procedure has been suspended pending review by local authorities. Under the old procedure, the documents of the stranded workers were forwarded to the Saudi Social Welfare Administration which would contact the worker’s employer for an exit visa.
This is no longer the case. The Philippine Overseas Labor Office now directly negotiates with the employer who normally refuses to negotiate at first because he feels cheated by his former employee, most probably a housemaid.
“What is needed is patience. On the third or fourth occasion, the employer would probably negotiate for the release of a visa if he gets back what he had spent in recruiting the worker who had run away,” he said.
According to the source, this is what is being done at present under Labor Attache Rustico M. Dela Fuente.
Benny M. Quiambao, a well-known community leader, said the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh is faced with various problems but Dela Fuente is a veteran.
He said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) made the right choice is reassigning Dela Fuente to Riyadh.
“He knows many of the employers here. He had dealt with them before and he would know how to deal with them,” he said.