The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is taking steps to ban a retired military officer in Saudi Arabia from employing Filipino workers over reports of repeated physical abuse on househelp.
“Tinitingnan natin kung paano maipapa-blacklist at hindi na magapadala ng OFW doon sa bahay ng retired general (We are looking at how to blacklist the retired general and stop the deployment of OFWs to his residence),” POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said in a virtual press brieifng.
Cases of physical abuse and non-payment of salaries involving a retired general who is allegedly “a close ally of a Saudi Prince” were raised to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh in 2018.
“Halos lahat ng mga OFWs na na-deploy sa bahay na iyon ay nagreklamo dahil sa pagmamaltrato kaya unti-unti silang na-repatriate (Almost all the OFWs deployed in that house complained of maltreatment so they were gradually repatriated),” Olalia said.
Of the 16 OFWs involved, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was able to repatriate eight before August this year, five on Sept. 1, and one on Tuesday. The remaining two are set to return home soon.
According to Olalia, the POEA and DOLE have launched a fact-finding investigation and interviewed the victimized OFWs and their private recruitment agencies to shed light on the issue.
Based on the investigation, the POEA chief noted that the retired general was not named as the direct employer in the workers’ employment contracts and his exact address was also not stated.
“May mga kaukulang sanctions na nainimpose ang POEA dahil sa kapabayaan ng mga ahensyang nag-deploy sa mga OFWs. Ang ilan sa kanila ay suspendido na ang lisensya (The POEA already imposed corresponding sanctions due to negligence of the recruitment agencies that deployed the OFWs. Some have had their licenses suspended),” Olalia said.
The Department earlier said that they are looking into imposing a deployment ban to Saudi Arabia until the kingdom’s government shows that they can protect OFWs there, especially domestic helpers.