From New Jersey, Filipino community leader Robert Ceralvo said in an e-mail to abs-cbnNEWS.com that, “I hope we learn from this experience-every OFW should leave enough money and provisions for themselves, for emergencies like this one, just enough to buy a fare to bring them home or to safety.”
At the same time, he said, “Our government should also re-think their strategy of sending our OFWs to far-away lands, in order to send back their dollar earnings.
The [Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration] (or our government) should allocate reasonable funds for quick evacuation and repatriation of our compatriots in time of crisis.”
Edna Aquino, who set up the Center for Filipinos in London, added in another e-mail message that, “It (the Lebanon crisis) exposed the political bankruptcy of the Philippine government in not getting its acts together which then affected its ability to urgently respond to a crisis situation involving its citizens abroad.”
But Saudi Arabia-based Filipino community leader Manuel “Bong” Amora said in turn that it is not just the government’s response that is central to the Lebanon crisis.
“The vulnerability of Filipino overseas workers of violence particularly our Filipina domestic helpers continue to worsen year by year. Our government and policy makers’ response (to) the issue has not been comprehensively explored or little has been done.”
In another e-mail message, Amora narrated a recent news story about two Filipino domestic helpers gang raped in Kuwait. He said this just shows how the government ineffectively addresses the rampant activities of illegal recruiters coddled by big-time syndicates and crooked officials.
“The story conveys how helpless our [Filipino] maids in foreign countries are and how they are susceptible to maltreatment and abuse. It does not only give damage to the reputation of working women sector but to the whole country as well,” Amora said.
He added: “Does our government have to wait for another Sarah Balabagan in the making to attract international attention before we can have a concrete measures to prevent such inhuman act to our Filipina household workers?”
From New Hampshire, Marvin Bionat who formed ‘Talsik’, a movement to keep an eye on the government and allegations of corruption, said the horror story of 2006 was, “Filipinas jumping out of windows to escape the cruelty of their employers and their decision to stay abroad anyway.”
“Why do Filipinos have to leave the country even if it means breaking up their families and facing the desolation and dangers of exile? Lack of opportunities and the desperate need to get out of the rut plus a general hopelessness that the government can’t do much to help create the conditions of progress continue to drive young and bright Filipinos/Filipinas away to foreign shores,” Bionat said.
By: JULIE JAVELLANA-SANTOS, abs-cbn NEWS.com 18/12/06. Read more…