Cebu News

OFW falls victim to illegal recruiter

A 27-year-old Overseas Filipino Worker from Singapore asked the help of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and reported the alleged abuses she suffered during her ten-month stay in the said country where she claimed earning only 140 Singaporean dollars.

Rapunzel Sanoria Omandam, 27, married, a resident of barangay Samlog Lungsod in the town of Lupon Davao Oriental was accompanied by her older sister when she went to the police and reported that she was duped by an illegal recruiter back in Davao last year.

Omandam told the police that she was recruited by a barangay midwife of barangay Cocanon in their hometown identified as Marilyn Gogo who bragged about her sister who is working in Singapore as a domestic helper who can help her find an employer because she is directly connected to an agency based in Singapore.

She was promised to collect 320 Singaporean dollars per month minus the payment of the travel and document expenses the agency that would only take six months to pay as salary deductions.

On the day they are about to live for Singapore last March 20, 2006, they discovered that their papers are not for workers but for tourists.

She said that they were made to believe that the agency was working on their papers legally because they were sometimes brought to the Department of Foreign Affairs office and other government agencies involved in travel and work documents in Manila, but they were just asked to sit and wait in a corner.

But because she had already borrowed P12,000 for her travel she did not complain about the documents and ended up working as a housemaid in Singapore, but four months later she got ill and her employer returned her to her agency.

She claimed that she was detained for a month in a house the agency called a "training center" where in fact it was just an ordinary house where all the illegally recruited workers from the Philippines and Indonesia are locked awaiting some employer to hire them.

A Singaporean woman she identified as Leong Foong Gee Flora hired her to work for her mother Elsie Leong, but her new employer made her a baker of pineapple cookies.

The long exposure to the acidic juice of the fruit damaged her fingernails as she was allegedly made to work 22 hours a day. Lack of sleep made her sloppy, prompting her employer to beat her several times.

After six months, her employer returned her again to the agency and she was detained again for another month.

Omandam said that of the ten months she worked in Singapore she was never able to send a single peso to her family in Davao because the agency collected eight months worth of deductions instead of the agreed six.

In her calculations, she only earned 140 Singaporean Dollars from her salary and still owes the "training center" 750 Singaporean Dollars for food.

A maid she befriended in the said agency managed to go home and brought news of her suffering to her kin in Davao.

Her sister, Vilma Peters who is married to a Belgian national and lives in Cebu City, asked the help of the authorities to save Omandam.

Peters said they contacted the Philippine Embassy in Singapore and learned that Omandam was not documented as OFW in the said country.

The agency reportedly asked Peters to pay the debts of Omandam before they will release her and asked also that they pay for her return trip, since they would not allow Peters to come to Singapore personally to pick her sister up.

When embassy representatives came for Omandam she was reportedly made to sign a document that said she was not abused by her employers.

Peters also learned that the agency is not registered nor legally existing in the said country but still recruiting workers especially women from the countryside in the Philippines as OFWs.

SPO1 Rodulfo Gabisay told reporters that they will be endorsing the case to the CIDG-11 since the recruitment happened in their jurisdiction. - Edwin Ian Melecio/BRP

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