Press Release
February 11, 2015

Villar gives livelihood to 5 distressed OFWs

SENATOR Cynthia A. Villar yesterday gave livelihood and financial assistance to five (5) distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who opted to return to the country after suffering various forms of maltreatment from their employers abroad.

A known advocate of the rights and welfare of our OFWs, Villar said the assistance will help the OFWs put up small businesses. She partnered with All Day Supermarket to provide the OFWs with grocery items.

Those who were provided financial assistance and groceries were Juan Zaragosa, 36; of Balagtas, Bulacan; Jocelyn Montes, 33, Dasmarinas, Cavite; Nenita de Guzman, 35, Parañaque City; Merceditas Dogma, 35, Valenzuela City and Leslie Macalalad, Brgy. San Nicolas, San Pablo City.

Their plight was brought to the attention of Villar by the Blas F. Ople Policy Center led by Ms. Susan "Toots" Ople, who has been at forefront of helping distressed OFWs.

Zaragoza was tortured while detained at Malas jail in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in order to confess using and selling drugs. He endured his sufferings as he continued to profess his innocence.

Despite his innocence, he was sentenced to suffer two years imprisonment, receive 150 lashes and pay a fine of 1000 Saudi Rial. He was only freed after being afforded amnesty during Ramadan and was deported to the country in September last year.

Montes was subjected to physical abuses by her employer in Damman, KSA. While working as domestic helper, she was made to work for long hours, was not given enough food and was not allowed to go out of her employer's house.

She became more desperate when her employer did not allow her to seek medical treatment after experiencing numbness in her hand due to overwork. Due to this, she sought help to be repatriated and was reunited with her family last December.

Just like Montes, De Guzman, a widow and a mother of two, was made to work for long hours and denied food. She decided to return to the Philippines due to fear of being raped by her employer following several sexual attempts.

Dogma went abroad after losing everything she has in life to Typhoon Ondoy in 2009. Unfortunately, she was also subjected to unfair working conditions and maltreatment in Damman, KSA. Despite working as caregiver and helper, she was fed only bread and tea and was made to sleep on the floor without any mat or anything to protect her. Macalalad, on the other hand, was not properly paid her salary while working as domestic helper in Cyprus.

"We should at all times come to the rescue of Filipino migrant workers who were not lucky enough while working in a foreign land," said Villar. "I hope they will put these 'pangkabuhayan' packages and financial support into good use so they can have a source of income so they can stay in our country for good."

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