Husband seeks help for wife in 'bonded labor' in Oman

By Maria Aleta Nieva-Nishimori, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Jul 12 2009 05:29 PM | Updated as of Jul 15 2009 06:59 PM

Nestor Figaroa had sold his tricycle’s sidecar to add to the money that they used to buy a return plane ticket for his wife who is still in Oman.
 
“Naghanap po kami ng pera. ‘Yong sidecar ko naibenta ko para lang maidagdag sa pambili ng plane ticket ng asawa ko dahil yun po ang sabi ng agency ng Oman,” Figaroa said.
 
Figaroa’s wife Maribel Calisaan, 37, is one of the seven Filipino women that according to Migrante International are being used as “bonded labor” by their recruiter.
 
During a press conference organized by Migrante International, Figaroa said that they bought the plane ticket for his wife on June 22 and expected her to arrive in the Philippines last June 29.
 
“Noong umabot po ang June 29 inaasahan ko pong makakauwi na ang asawa ko pero hindi po pinauwi. Kung bakit hindi pinapauwi ang asawa ko ay dahil hinihingan po siya ng replacement fee na wala naman po kaming sapat na pera para mabayaran ‘yon,” Figaroa said adding that the replacement fee that the recruiter was asking for amounted to $1,000.
 
Calisaan’s other companions were identified as Mary Joy Belmes, Cheryl Gaje, Josephine Bilolo, Siony Jamindang, Lysil Laborte and Annaliza Caderero.
 
The seven OFWs were allegedly held against their will by a certain Hamoud Al Harty, owner of the Gulf Shield Manpower Services in Madinat Qaebos, Muscat, Oman.
 
His wife reportedly left Manila in February to work as a domestic helper in Oman. Her papers were reportedly processed by Philtrade International Manpower Services, Euroconsult Agency and Empleos Incorporated.
 
“Ang asawa ko po ang sabi gumawa daw po ako ng paraan dahil po ‘yong sakit niyang goiter lumalala na. Pinahihirapan po raw siya doon at kung minsan sinasaktan pa raw siya sa agency,” he said.
 
He added “Ang hiling ko lang sana mapauwi na ang asawa ko kasi may sakit po siya roon.”
 
Locked up

Migrante chairperson Gary Martinez said the women were made to clean the homes of the owner’s friends. After that, they were brought back to the agency and locked up in the basement.
 
“Binibigyan lamang po sila ng tatlong bote ng tubig na pagsasaluhan nila sa isang araw para mabasa lang ang kanilang lalamunan at isang beses lang kung kumain sa loob ng isang araw,” Martinez said.
 
The group reported that some of the women have become ill and live in constant fear.
 
“Ang pito pong Pilipina ay napipilitan na ang kanilang konting kinikita ay itago na lang sa kanilang mga pribadong parte ng katawan para hindi makumpiska ng may ari ng recruitment agency,” said Martinez.
 
RP gov’t informed

Martinez said that concerned government agencies have been informed about the women’s plight in Oman.
 
Figaroa and Martinez only learned about it after one of the victims returned to the Philippines and handed them a letter signed by the remaining seven OFWs.
 
“Sa huli pong pakikipagpanayam ng Migrante sa isang biktima na nakauwi na, binibigyan po sila ng taning na hanggang July 27 at isasara na ang agency at ide-deploy na lang po daw sila sa farm,” Martinez revealed.
 
Migrante is set to write a letter to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) about the case and prompt the foreign affairs department to take immediate action.
 
“Susulatan namin si Jennifer Manalili kung bakit nagaganap itong pasa-pasa nitong mga recruitment agencies na ito at pino-proseso pa nila. Kung may mga bad records hindi lang dapat suspension. Dapat tanggalan ng lisensiya at ipakulong,” Martinez said.