By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Sammy Bachiller, 24, applied for a job abroad, believing that he would earn sufficient money for his family. His recruiter told him that he would earn P20,000 ($465) a month. But he was paid only 400SAR plus an additional of 200SAR (P6,600 or $153). Bachiller and 40 more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are victims of labor malpractice. They are now seeking repatriation and demanding to get their money back to pay off their loans. “I would rather go home than to suffer here in Saudi Arabia,” Bachiller said in an affidavit.
The 41 OFWs, all male, were hired by a local establishment in Saudi Arabia named Al-Zahran Operations and Maintenance. There are 855 OFWs working in that establishment, said John Leonard Monterona, regional coordinator of Migrante-Middle East. They were deployed by its Manila-based agent Al-Ahram International Human Resources Group, Inc.
The OFWs said in their written affidavit that after working for 3 months or more they still were not given an Iqama or residence card, their salaries have been downgraded from 800SAR (P8,800 or $204) to 600SAR (P6,600 or $143), and they were forced to sign another contract written in Arabic upon their arrival to the job site.
Robby Luck M. Flores, 26, for one, said he was told to stop working any explanation. “I have no job for almost two months now. I only had my Iqama or residence card for only one month but they took it away. Now I cannot even look for a job because I don’t have an Iqama. My wife is pregnant and I can’t even send money to her.”
Flores arrived in Saudi Arabia on October 2011. He said he signed a contract, before leaving, that stipulated that his salary would be 800SAR per month, but the Zahran Company only gave him 550SAR (P6,010 or $143). The company also did not give them pay slips. He also got beaten up by his Egyptian supervisor. “He punched me, stepped on my hand and choked me.” Flores wishes that he could come home as he survives only by asking food from friends. Flores, together with his co-workers, filed a complaint before the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Saudi Arabia on January 2012. Sadly, they were told last April that their case against the company is weak.
Bachiller, on the other hand, was recruited by a certain Rosafe Cepria of the Al-Ahram International Human Resources Group, Inc.. He was told that his salary would be P20,000 ($465). However, he was also told by Cepria that he would have to pay a placement fee of P35,000 ($813). Bachiller asked his parents to mortgage their land in Abra.
“I asked my parents to acquire a loan and mortgage our land so that I could go abroad. We mortgaged our land for P50,000 ($1,162) and we also acquired a loan. Our total debt amounted to P60,000 ($1,395). All were used to pay for my requirements to work abroad,” he said..... MORE