The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday welcomed home 158 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 74 from Abu Dhabi and 84 from Dubai.
“In line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment to protect the welfare and well-being of Filipinos overseas, we welcome home this morning 158 OFWs, most of whom were victims of trafficking in persons,” said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola.
Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn M. Quintana said the latest repatriation is a joint effort between the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General in Dubai.
“These workers were found to have left the country using short-term visit visas and were promised to be issued with work visas by illegal recruiters. Many of them were overworked, suffered maltreatment, and experienced contract violations by their employer,” said Consul General to Dubai Paul Raymund Cortes.
The DFA also reiterated its warning to Filipinos seeking employment abroad against the use of tourist or visit visas to secure overseas jobs.
OFWs without the proper employment documents are more prone to abuses and exploitation by their employers.
The Department has been receiving reports about illegal recruiters using a third or fourth country, usually where a visa is not required for Filipinos and some countries in the Middle East, as jump-off points to send Filipino workers to banned destinations.
Since January, over 4,800 OFWs have been repatriated from the UAE, costing the government at least P135.34 million.
Meanwhile in 2018, a total of 5,842 OFWs were repatriated from Dubai and 3,533 from Abu Dhabi, amounting to more than P175.21 million worth of assistance.