SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go has commended the Department of Foreign Affairs and other concerned agencies for the successful repatriation of a new batch of seven trafficked Filipinos from the Philippine Embassy in Damascus, Syria.
“Maraming salamat po sa Department of Foreign Affairs at sa iba pang concerned government agencies na tumulong upang makabalik ang ating mga kababayan na biktima ng human trafficking at pang-aabuso sa bansang Syria,” Go said.
“Bilang malapit ang ating puso sa mga OFWs, naiintindihan ko po ang hirap na kanilang dinanas bago makarating sa bansa. Kaya naman po tuwang tuwa tayo na ligtas silang nakabalik sa Pilipinas at muli na nilang makakapiling ang kani-kanilang mga pamilya,” he added.
Go also thanked the DFA for its ongoing efforts to bring back to the country the remaining trafficked OFWs in Syria who have ongoing court cases.
A post from the DFA website states that the migrant workers were “victims of human trafficking and were illegally hired to work in Syria from being tourists in Dubai.”
“Ayaw po namin na may naaabusong Pilipino. Proteksyunan natin ang ating mga kababayan kahit asan man sila sa mundo,” Go stressed.
One of the repatriates whose name could not be disclosed at this time detailed her abuse in the hands of her employers and the harsh working conditions which prompted her to seek help from the Philippine Embassy.
“Sinampal po ako ng amo ko. Dalawa po silang mag-asawa, tapos sinuntok din po ako. Apat na buwan din ako nagtrabaho doon sa employer ko, tapos ‘di ko na po kaya ‘yung trabaho ko kaya umalis na po ako at pumunta sa Embassy ng Pilipinas,” she said. She also thanked President Rodrigo Duterte, Go and concerned government agencies for their assistance to them.
“Maraming, maraming salamat po sa nagbigay ng tulong at maraming, maraming salamat po na sila po ang tumutulong sa amin. Maraming, maraming salamat po, Senator Bong Go, sir. Nagpapasalamat po ako na ikaw ang tumutulong sa amin,” she said.
Before this, six Filipino migrants who were victims of human trafficking in Syria, safely returned to the Philippines on Saturday, February 7, following support and assistance from President Duterte, the Office of Senator Go, DFA and other concerned government agencies. The second batch of repatriates also received similar assistance from these offices.
One of the migrant workers also expressed her gratitude to Duterte, Go and the rest of the government for facilitating their return to the country after a grueling battle for repatriation.
“Nagpapasalamat po kami kay Pangulong Duterte at Senator Bong Go dahil napakalaki ng tulong ng ibinigay nila para sa pagsisimulang muli namin ng buhay sa bansa,” said one of the migrant workers.
“Maliban po sa tulong, naramdaman naming hindi kami iniwan ng pamahalaan, lalo na nina Pangulong Duterte at Senator Go,” they added.
As for the remaining repatriates, DFA states that it “continues to lobby hard with the Syrian authorities and employers to secure exit clearances for the repatriates.” To assist the remaining wards with their ongoing court cases, the DFA is utilizing its Assistance-to-Nationals Fund and the Legal Assistance Fund.
Earlier, Go has expressed his grave concern over the reported trafficking of some Filipino women forcibly taken to Syria and abused by their employers, saying that this is one of the reasons why he is bent on pushing for the passage of a bill that will establish the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil) that will better protect their rights and advance their welfare.
“Bagong bayani kung ituring natin sila na halos sampung porsiyento ng ating populasyon. Sana naman ay suklian natin nang mas maayos at mas mabilis na serbisyo ang kanilang sakripisyo para sa kanilang pamilya at sa bayan,” Go said in a statement.
The bill creating the DOFil is one of the priority measures of the present administration as mentioned numerous times by President Duterte, including in his last two State of the Nation Addresses. The President recently certified this most recent version filed by Go as urgent. It is also one of the top twenty priority measures identified by both houses of Congress this year.
“One of the main features of my proposed DOFil bill is the one country-team approach,” Go noted, stating that this requires all officials in Philippine diplomatic posts to act together as one team, regardless of their mother agencies, in the country of assignment, in protecting the rights and advancing the welfare of Filipino migrant workers there, with guidance from the DFA and the Philippine Foreign Service Posts.
The proposed department can also initiate and help prosecute human trafficking cases in coordination with the Department of Justice. Go added that overseas Filipinos in distress may swiftly be provided with assistance due to the one country-team approach.
“Kung in distress ang isang Pilipino abroad, kadalasan, hindi nila alam kung saan lalapit para humingi ng tulong. Minsan sa radyo, meron sa Facebook. Pero kung merong one country-team approach tayo, alam ng mga kababayan nating humihingi ng tulong kung saan pupunta,” he said.