Thank God, a happy ending!
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - January 10, 2019 - 12:00am

Remember the Christmas drama I shared with you all in my December 22 column? Remember how maltreated a Filipino helper was by her employers in one Middle Eastern country and how, before December 25, she and her husband, in tears, appealed for help for her to be sent home? Christmas came and the New Year ushered in, this helper was still made to work in her abusive employers’ household.


With God’s intervention and the help of private and public migrant advocates, however, finally, she came home safe and well last Friday, January 4.

Thank God for this happy ending. Instead of tears, the long-separated couple finally had smiles on their faces as they lovingly hugged each other when they met!

But before this happy ending, a last hirit, last retaliatory act from her very angry, abusive employer who withheld and did not send her suitcase to the airport as agreed upon with the agency. The suitcase contained all her clothes and very meager personal items. Her husband’s message: “Grabe ka salbahis. Wala tawon sanina akong asawa. Apil pa didto iyang lotion, sabon n wax shampoo tawn nga iyang gi taguan nga hinatag sa mama sa iyang amo.”

Gratefully, the reunited couple chose to move on and focus on being together, finally!

This drama involving our migrant workers in urgent need of assistance has been going on now for decades. Let us review this recent case and see how a better, effective system of assistance can be assured for our needy migrants.

As early as November 2018, this latest drama we reported was brought to the attention of those in several migrant-related government offices, including the local and foreign agencies handling the deployment and employment of this Filipina. The husband who sought help from migrant-related government offices was scolded for bringing up the complaint of his wife about her abusive employers. The government office staff even blamed his wife for causing the problem.

This sad and unsympathetic attitude and behavior of certain staff in migrant-related government agencies have been reported not only for this latest case. Even years back, other abused migrant victims and/or their families have experienced being shouted at, scolded, or blamed by insensitive, undeserving staff of OWWA and POEA. There are, of course, commendable, genuinely helpful personnel in these offices. However, there are also those who need to be reoriented about their public service.

When their cry for help is unheeded, the migrants and/or their family seek the help of concerned migrant advocacy groups and individuals. Complete name and other data (employment contract, job address, name of local and international agencies, among others) are important. All agencies are mandated to protect those they deploy.

The non-government or civil society advocates document the case and forward the cases to the employment agencies and their contacts in POEA, OWWA, and the labor attache and social work staff in respective Philippine embassies abroad. Please note that, despite the sincere and prompt action on the part of the NGOs, the case and the call for urgent assistance are again in the hands of government offices and often stalled or unattended.

Sadly, despite decades of experiencing similar cases of abuse and need, until now, migrant-related government action for overseas Filipinos needing assistance is sorely slow, unorganized, and even absent, here and in Philippine embassies abroad.

Palakasan and patronage are also very evident in this migrant assistance setup. With connections in government, expect action, quick or delayed. Without?

Urgently needed and demanded: more effective, prompt, genuine government service for all Filipinos!

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