The Philippine government has repatriated 158 distressed overseas Filipino workers from the United Arab Emirates who were victims of illegal recruitment, the Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday said.
DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said 74 workers came from Abu Dhabi while 84 were flown from Dubai.
Arriola said the repatriation of the distressed OFWs were in line with President Duterte’s commitment to protect the welfare and well-being of Filipinos working abroad.
“We welcome home this morning 158 OFWs, most of whom were victims of trafficking in persons,” Arriola said.
Philippine Consul General to Dubai Paul Raymund Cortes said the workers were found to have left the Philippines 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,” Cortes said.
Arriola reiterated its warning to Filipinos seeking employment abroad against the use of tourist or visit visas to secure overseas jobs, adding that 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,’ she Arriola said.
Since January 2019, more than 4,800 OFWs have been repatriated to the country from the UAE, costing the government over P135.34 million.
Last year, a total of 5,842 Filipino workers were also flown back from Dubai and 3,533 from Abu Dhabi, which cost the Philippine government P175.21 million.
The amount involved includes the maintenance and operating costs of government shelters in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, cost of processing of exit visas, and their airfare to Manila and respective home provinces.