DFA mum on Syrian officials allegedly pressuring trafficked OFWs to retract statements in Washington Post report

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2021 11:12 PM

MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs has declined to give a reaction on Syrian embassy officials allegedly pressuring abused or trafficked domestic workers, including OFWs, to retract their statement from a Washington Post story that detailed their plight.

“There have been detailed responses from the parties concerned, and since we are constrained by Philippine law on anti-trafficking from identifying or giving details on trafficked persons. Suffice it to say that the matter of who was doing the ‘pressuring’ seems open to interpretation," Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez of the DFA Office of Strategic Communication and Research told reporters Monday.

"What is important is that all of our people are safely back home.”

In January, the US-based paper reported about dozens of Filipinas who had been recruited to work in the United Arab Emirates, but were trafficked to Syria.

The story prompted Philippine officials to repatriate at least 55 Filipino migrant workers seeking refuge in the country's embassy in Damascus after escaping their alleged abusive employers.

At least 34 trafficking victims staying at the Philippine Embassy shelter were repatriated from Syria in February 2021. 

As of June 2021, the shelter in Syria has been emptied and all wards repatriated, the DFA said on July 3.

—Report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

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