MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Labor and Employment assured Thursday that they are looking into the plight of the 131 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Libya.
Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Tripoli has “promptly" looked into the plight of the workers after receiving complaints against their employer in Benghazi, Libya.
The OFWs complained of poor accommodation, substandard toilets, insufficient food and medical facilities, absence of safety gadgets, and downgraded and delayed salaries.
Citing a report from Tripoli-based Labor Attaché Nasser Mustafa, Roque said the POLO found the complaints “legitimate" and has started making representations with the employer to address the complaints.
The DOLE chief said the employer had “acknowledged" the shortcomings and assured the POLO that it would “rectify" the problem on accommodation, food, and sanitary and safety needs of the OFWs.
The employer, he said, was also told to comply with the OFWs’ contract provision on salaries.
Roque said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is also prepared to investigate the OFWs’ recruitment agency in case the employer fails to address the complaints.
Meanwhile, 11 of the 131 OFWs had already found new employment with another company in Libya.
The Tripoli-based POLO also negotiated for the official release of the OFWs who had already started working for a new employer.
The POLO will also negotiate for the release of the rest of the distressed OFWs who would soon be absorbed by a big construction firm in Libya, said Roque in a statement.
In April, the POEA had suspended two recruitment agencies, Aquagem Int’l and Sharikat Al Saedi Int’l for substituting the contracts of several OFWs whom they deployed to Libya.
The OFWs’ employer, Cifex World, was also placed on the POEA watch list.
Mustafa, on the other hand, dismissed reports saying that he had defended the erring agencies and even acted as a “spokesman" for the Libyan company that victimized the OFWs.
Mustafa said it was he who urged the POEA to place the agencies on its watchlist. - Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV