Two Filipino migrant advocacy groups based in the Middle East urge the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), an adjunct agency to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), to intensify the crackdown of suspects responsible for human trafficking and illegal recruitment. The POEA’s main function is to administer and regulate the employment of Filipinos abroad.
An overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) group based in Kuwait, AKO OFW and an OFW advocacy group based in Saudi Arabia, The United OFWs Worldwide (U-OFWs) also, jointly called upon the attention of POEA chief Atty. Hans Cacdac and urged him to intensify efforts and bring to justice traffickers and recruiters including those who belong to POEA-licensed recruitment agencies.
Kuwait-based AKO OFW founding chairman, Chie Umandap said, “We are handling numerous cases of Filipino household service workers deployed here in Kuwait and some were illegally brought by their employers outside the country such as Saudi Arabia”.
Mr. Umandap added that currently there are four household service workers (HSWs) his group handles with similar cases and complaints. “We are providing special attention to these four cases as they claimed abuse and victims of labor malpractices caused by their employers. These house helpers have been deployed by four POEA licensed Philippine recruitment agencies,” Mr. Umandap added.
U-OFWs convener John Leonard Monterona, who is based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, also confirmed that his team is handling 3 cases of Filipino HSWs who were deployed in Kuwait but were brought by their employers to Saudi Arabia and deployed by POEA-licensed PH recruitment agencies. He added, “During my communications with Umandap, we came to know that the practice of deploying HSWs to Kuwait and later brought illegally to Saudi Arabia is rampant and this is clearly human smuggling which needs not only prevention but apprehension of those involved,” Monterona added.
One of the agencies identified is KEY’s PLACEMENT, INC. “We conveyed and pleaded this issue to the official representative of the agency several times but a redundant reply was given to us that they will correspond with the Philippine embassy. Until now, the agency has not provided any action on these cases,” Mr. Umandap pointed out. Both OFW advocate leaders called on the POEA chief Atty. Cacdac to implement closer surveillance and investigate even those POEA-licensed agencies suspected of engaging with illegal recruitment and human trafficking activities.
A conservative estimate of two hundred thousand (200,000) Filipino workers are currently working in Kuwait, while there are 350,000 in Saudi Arabia.