DFA bringing home 6 Filipina human-trafficking victims from Syria

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2021 09:35 PM

Handout photo from the Department of Foreign Affairs

MANILA — Some 6 Filipinas who were victims of human trafficking in Damascus, Syria are expected to fly in on Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said. 

The 6 were among 38 Filipinas who sought shelter at the Philippine Embassy in Damascus having been subjected to human trafficking, the agency explained in a statement on Saturday. 

“They are all undocumented workers in Syria who ran away from their employers due to harsh working conditions,” the DFA said. 

In late January, foreign affairs chief Teodoro Locsin Jr. vowed to bring home human trafficking victims from Syria, following a report that exposed the plight of Filipinas there. 

Many of them escaped their employers and sought sanctuary at the Philippine Embassy, but reportedly received ill treatment from embassy staff. Locsin also said he would launch an investigation into the alleged poor treatment.

The DFA, through its Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, coordinated with the inter-agency council against trafficking led by the Department of Justice for the repatriates’ filing of criminal complaints against the people who recruited them illegally in their home provinces and sent them to Dubai and Syria. 

“The department lobbied hard with the Syrian authorities and employers to secure exit clearances for the repatriates,” the statement read. 

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello earlier said that while there is no Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Syria and repatriation of all undocumented Filipino workers are under the DFA’s jurisdiction, his agency would still look into the matter.