OLEP4CL : Part I (Bahay Kalinga)
I was one of the lucky participants of last Friday’s (08/17/07) forum initiated by POLO/OWWA dubbed as Onsite Labor Education Program for Community Leaders (OLEP4CL).
OLEP4CL is a series of meeting for 3 consecutive Friday’s that started last Friday, August 17; and to be followed by the next batches of community leaders/participants this coming August 24 and 31 respectively, at the OFW Leaders Lounge of POLO Building inside the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh.
On-Site Labor Education Program for Community Leaders
Objectives of OLEP4CL are to acquaint Community Leaders with the provisions of the New Saudi Labor Law, which are relevant to OFW circumstances. OLEP4CL ensures the use of common reference and the provision of correct information to OFWs seeking advice from Community Leaders.
Since I divided this entry into several parts for our fellow OFWs in KSA to read, we will concentrate on the first subject, which I found related to my previous entry. It is about the shelter services of our Filipino Workers Resource Center or Bahay Kalinga and their current policy.
Prior to the seminar I was able to talk to BK-Riyadh Administrator Mr. Jimmy Umag in which he humbly admitted that BK does not accept pregnant female OFW including “mother and child”. It was confirmed when Labor Attache Resty Dela Fuente says during the seminar that sheltering or harboring women who obviously committed immorality is a direct affront to the laws of the kingdom.
Some strategic BK policies are as follows:
1) The so called “waiver policy” has been rescinded since July 2006
2) Visitation at BK is not allowed, proven relatives may meet BK residents at the POLO on pre-arranged schedules;
3) BK does not admit TNTs (with plane tickets) but may serve them through endorsement to SSWA (Saudi Social Welfare Administration;
4) BK does not accept pregnant female OFW and admonishes the identified father to assume full responsibility;
5) POLO does not actively solicit but is very thankful and appreciative of community donations for BK.
Rationales for Non-Admission of Pregnant female OFWs are the following:
a) Almost all these women are NOT victims of employers or foreigners, but duped by irresponsible OFW-boy friends;
b) The male OFWs who took advantage of the weaknesses of these Filipinas must not be afforded with opportunity to also take advantage of the PE-POLO;
c) Sheltering them creates impression of condoning the wrongdoings of the Filipinos, and propels inequity of freeing irresponsible fathers from their responsibilities, while the Philippine Government suffers from overstretched negotiations with authorities and unnecessary strain in its resources;
d) The BK is not conducive and not equipped for accommodating pregnant women;
e) There are more cases of distressed OFWs meritorious of assistance which must be prioritized; and
f) Sheltering pregnant women in the context at hand is not consistent with the objective of inculcating sound values to the Filipino Community.
FilCom visit Bahay Kalinga
However, they informed the attendees that POLO continues to explore options other than sheltering them at BK, to help Assistance to National Section (ANS) in assisting pregnant female OFWs, including “mother and child” who are left in miseries and sufferings by their supposed to be “lovers”.
We support and acknowledged the BK new policies as well as the repelling of the so-called waiver policy. It really ensures that our run away female OFWs are protected from further harm done by fellow Filipinos who took advantage of their unfortunate situation.
My salute to Labor Attache Resty Dela Fuente and a tight handshake to Welfare Officers/Interpreters, Mr. Salahuddin Unda, Mr. Mustapha Glang and Welof Abdulghani “Jimmy” Umag.
But I still believe that distressed female OFWs regardless of their situation and offenses, against the strict laws of the host country; must be admitted and be given refuge to Filipino Workers Resource Center upon request of the OFW in distress for shelter. Counseling should be done immediately until such time that the other option mentioned above be realized.
Let us remember that the Filipino Migrant Workers Act 8042, “Declaration of Policies” clearly states, “(e) it is imperative that an effective mechanism be instituted to ensure that the rights and interest of distressed overseas Filipinos, in general, and Filipino migrant workers, in particular, documented or undocumented, are adequately protected and safeguarded.” – BongA