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 60 OFWs in Maldives appeal for help

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Female Number of posts : 880
Registration date : 2008-01-06

PostSubject: 60 OFWs in Maldives appeal for help   Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:03 pm

By Maria Aleta Nieva-Nishimori, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Around 60 overseas Filipino workers in the Maldives had dreamt of providing a better future for their families in the Philippines. But, they are now the source of worry of their relatives in the country.

“Agahan lugaw? Magbubuhat ka ng semento ang kakainin mo lugaw? Napakahirap po ang kalagayan nila doon,” said Myrna Grimaldo, the wife of Randy Grimaldo.

Mrs. Grimaldo told media during a press conference organized by Migrante International that aside from the deplorable conditions endured by her husband and other Filipinos working in a construction site in the Maldives, their employer have yet to give them their five-month salary.

“Pumirma po sila ng kontrata nila doon na for 15 months at may sahod silang US$300 a month. Ngunit ngayon po, limang buwan na po ang asawa ko. Umalis po siya ng March 15 dito. Simula po ng umalis siya hanggang ngayon hindi pa din sila pinapasahod. Napakarami na po nilang utang doon. Hindi na po sila pinapautang ng mga tindahang maliliit doon sapagkat wala po silang pambayad,” Mrs. Grimaldo said.

Mrs. Grimaldo was among the 17 families who sought the help of Migrante International to prompt the government to repatriate their loved ones.

She said she now tries to make ends meet in Marinduque while also worrying about the fate of her husband abroad.

“May apat kaming anak, nag-aaral lahat iyon. Para lang makatawid gutom naggagapas na ako ng palay maghapon. Magpapainit ka isang baldeng palay ang makukuha mo. Okay na sa akin kasi hindi na kami bibili ng bigas. Ang iisipin ko na lang iyong pera. Sa susunod na araw pera naman ang kukunin kong pambayad para may pambaon iyong mga anak namin,” she tearfully said.

Some of the families who attended the press conference were from Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Catanduanes, Marinduque, and Bulacan.

‘Mosquitoes, flies’

Joseph Macapia said his brother Leonito informed him through text messages and calls that the workers had to gather rainwater to drink and bathe in the ocean.

“Ang kalagayan po ng kanilang tirahan ay mainit, puno ng lamok, maraming langaw at ang kanila pong iniinom na tubig ay marumi, may kiti-kiti. Ang kanilang kinakain doon ay isang kilong bigas na ilulugaw nila sa isang container na tubig. Ang kanilang ulam, noodles, tatlong hiwang galunggong na maliit,” he said.

Macapia said that his brother and the other Filipino workers have taken several part-time jobs to buy food and contact their families back home.

“Kapag araw po ng Biyernes gumagawa sila ng paraan, nagtatabas sila ng mga damo ng mga puno, nagpapaupa sila doon sa mga residente ng Maldives para lamang magkaroon sila ng komunikasyon, makatawag [lang] sa kanilang pamilya,” Macapia said.

They also resorted to fishing to have something to eat aside from the porridge they eat.

Junjun Primo is a first-time OFW and a father of six. Before working in the Maldives, he was a driver of a vice mayor in Catanduanes.

“Driver ng vice mayor sa Catanduanes kaya lang po maliit lang daw po sahod niya, gustong kumita ng malaki kaso nga po napunta doon sa walang sahod... Gusto lang daw po niya ang makauwi. Wala naman kaming pera. Saan kami kukuha ng pera?” Primo’s sister Clemencia Primo-Tapia told abs-cbnNEWS.com.

Tapia said she too received a distressed text message from her brother telling her that they lack water, food and have not been paid yet by their employer.

“Bumalik na lang po sila kasi kawawa ang pamilya niya. Anim ang anak niya wala namang naipapadala kung nandito po siya at walang makain at least nandito siya wala kaming kaba, alala kung anong nangyari sa kanila,” she said.

Seven OFWs sick

The poor conditions suffered by the OFWs there have resulted to seven of them already getting sick.

“Tulungan naman po ninyo sila. Kahit po gamot wala sila doon. Iyong asawa ko po sinipon, inubo dahil maghapon kang magda-drive tapos pupunta ka ng dagat manghuhuli ka ng isda. Walang gamot kung di iyong tinitipid niya na galing Pilipinas at wala din silang libreng gamot doon,” Mrs Grimaldo said.

Edwin Oclares, 24, has reportedly been sick for three straight days now. A townmate of Primo in Catanduanes, Oclares worked as a secretary of the town’s vice mayor.

“Dating secretary ng vice mayor, graduate ng computer programming pero dahil sa hirap ng buhay sa probinsiya namin pinilit niyang mag-abroad para kahit papaano kumita kaso lang iba iyong napuntahan,” his brother said.

Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez urged the government to act now and not wait for one of the OFWs to die.

“Hindi po nakakabigla na magkasakit sila sa kondisyon nila na malangaw, malamok, may kiti-kiti ang iniinom. Nasa desperadong sitwasyon ang ating kababayan,” Martinez said.


He likewise pointed out that government agencies like the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration all have budgets intended for distressed OFWs.

“Ngayon ninyo ipakita sa mamamayan, sa mga OFWs at pamilya nila iyong tinatawag nyong ‘one country team’ approach na madalas niyong ipinagmamalaki sa inyong mga brochure, sa inyong mga press releases, sa inyong mga interview,” Martinez said.

Joseph Macapia tells reporters the deplorable condition of 60 OFWs including his brother Leonito, in the Maldives/M.A.N. Nishimori, abs-cbnNEWS.comLike the rest of the families, Rosemari Velarde also appealed to the government to help repatriate her brother Christopher.

“Hinihiling lang po naming mga pamilya ng OFW na nasa Maldives na mapauwi sila agad dito. Kasi po nakakaawa ang kalagayan nila doon. Sana po magawan ng paraan as soon as possible mapauwi sila dito at mabigay iyong sahod nila,” she said.

She added: “Wala naman po kaming sapat na pera para mabigyan sila ng pamasahe doon para mapauwi dito. Mahirap lang po kasi kami. Marami po sa amin ang nagbubukid ang. Hindi po sapat yung pera namin para mabigyan sila ng pamasahe pauwi dito.”

Aside from Grimaldo, Macapia, Primo, Oclares and Velarde, the other OFWs were identified as Ramil Grimaldo, Edwin Grimaldo, Manolo del Mundo, Armando del Mundo, Crispin Ramiro, Mark Rioveres, Danilo Rey, Aniceto Rodelas, Francisco Pelaez, Ildefonso Permejo, Edmar Pahanonot, Ludwin Romero, Romeo Pelaez, Elmer Geografo, Leonardo Medez, Melicio Lopez, Darwin Cortez, Wilson Recamara, Jackson Rejano, Megmel Revilla, Santos Esplana, Pedro Esplana Jr., Marcelino Uminga, Edgardo Pagtulunan, Ronaldo Patalino, and Romulo Perreno.

Listen to the phone conversation between Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez and OFW Christopher Velarde, who is among the 60 OFWs appealing for government's help in the MaldivesZaldy Acumabig, Elezalde Mendoza, Allean Oriola, Marcial Creus, Eugeniano Darapieza, Antonio Cadiog, Ruben Burce, Samuel Burce, Rolly Sualibio, Antonio Casimiro, Louie Cadiz, Edchiel Ariete, Ricardo Acosta, Antonio Unabia, Mario Adriano, Jr. William Nicolas, Gilbert Uddipa, Allen Cabrahon, Abraham Sanchez, Andy Villaruel, Engelbert Estriller, Marlon Dumantay, Remecar Cabrahan, Welfredo Ancheta, Sandy Alcantara, Renaldo Cordova, Bengno Pacunana, and Rolando Palatino.

They were hired by their local employer Mayonview International Manpower Services as construction workers to Ashley Alexis Builders Corporation based in the Republic of Maldives.

According to Migrante International, the OFWs employment contract with Ashley Alexis Builders Corporation stipulates that the workers will receive US$300 monthly salary with “free, suitable and comfortable housing facilities and adequate and nutritious meal or adequate compensatory allowance of US$50 per month.” The contact also reportedly provides for “free medical and dental services including free medicine and free hospitalization whenever necessary”.
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