OFW accuses labor office staff of pocketing money

by Raffy A. Beltran, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at Aug 14 2012 11:00 AM | Updated as of Aug 15 2012 04:51 PM

...staff denies wrongdoing

AL KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia – A distressed overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia accused a staff of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office-Eastern Region Operations (POLO-ERO) of pocketing money intended for his immediate repatriation.

In a sworn statement, Joel Lacanilao said POLO-ERO administrative staff Jack Arroyo ordered him to pay 10,000 Saudi riyals to allegedly facilitate his repatriation that, according to him, never happened.

The complaint reached the attention of Migrante Middle East chapter, which then issued a statement requesting the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to probe Arroyo.

But Arroyo belied the accusations hurled against him.

He explained Lacanilao’s employers were demanding the said amount as compensation for the recruitment cost they incurred in bringing the OFW to work in Saudi Arabia.

Arroyo added that Lacanilao’s Philippine recruitment agency shouldered 3,000 Saudi riyals and the OFW was able to produce the remaining 7,000.

The POLO-ERO staff stressed that he did not pocket the money. He added that he has proof - in the form of a receipt 0 that the employer received the full amount of payment.

However, Arroyo alleged that after the payment was made, the issuance of the exit visa was delayed due to an unscheduled two-week travel of Lacanilao’s employer to Dubai and United Arab Emirates.

This was further delayed when the company filed a case against the OFW for absconding and that prevented his employer from giving him his exit visa until after the case was settled.

When the case was finally settled, Lacanilao’s passport was immediately stamped with his exit visa.

According to Labor Attaché Adam Musa, the case no longer has its merit as the exit visa was already obtained and stamped on the OFW’s passport.

Musa also refuted that Arroyo was being recalled due to the case. He said Arroyo is really on his way home as his tour of duty has already ended in July and was already on extension.

ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau tried to get Migrante’s Eastern Region Coordinator, Jerry de Guzman, to further comment on the issue. But the officer maintained that everything is already in their press statement.