Warning to all Kuwait-bound OFWs

Blogger’s Note: The Blas F. Ople Policy Center issued this pr today. Kindly help disseminate this warning through your respective networks and friends. Let’s work together to prevent more of our OFWs from ending up in the hands of white slavery gangs in Kuwait and elsewhere in the world.

Below is our press release:

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center cautioned Filipino women workers leaving for Kuwait to be on guard against a white slavery gang allegedly run by a Bangladeshi syndicate with the help of some Filipino nationals lest they end up as victims of gang rapes.

Former undersecretary Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said the 17-year old rape victim of the white slavery gang is still in a hospital in Kuwait for treatment. Other Filipino victims of the same gang are now under the care of the Philippine Embassy and the Office of the Labor Attache. Filipino members of the white slavery gang in Kuwait try to befriend vulnerable domestic helpers by enticing them with promises of a higher salary with a non-existent employer.

According to Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Ricardo Endaya, Filipino girlfriends and live-in partners of the Bangladeshi nationals allegedly running the syndicate have duped around 25 Filipino domestic helpers. The Blas F. Ople Policy Center has conveyed to the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait its willingness to assist the 17-year old rape victim upon her return to the Philippines.

“To minimize risks to their safety, we would like to remind our workers to always make sure that they are dealing with legitimate and reputable recruitment agencies,” Ople said.

The daughter of the late Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas F. Ople said the deployment of illegally recruited workers are made possible through an “escort system” at the international airport and the services-for-a-fee of fake passport syndicates. “Unless these syndicates and corrupt personnel are busted, more of our workers are likely to fall in the hands of human traffickers and white slavery syndicates,” Ople pointed out.

She said the government must prioritize the modernization of the Philippine passport with sufficient security features to guard against name fraud and tampering of photos and the age of the holder.

“Passport fraud has become a sophisticated underground business with tourist workers in Singapore mailing their passport photos to a syndicate in Malaysia with cohorts in Manila. The DFA must be granted sufficient funds and adequate support to institute passport reforms at the soonest possible time,” Ople said.

She expressed confidence that with a more secure passport system, illegal recruitment particularly of minors shall be greatly reduced.

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center underscored the need for overseas job applicants to be more discerning and careful in choosing their work destinations and job vacancies.

“Always double check these vacancies with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and don’t be content with just promises. The worker must be able to examine the job contract as verified by the POEA before handing over his or her money. The agency involved must issue official receipts and charge a reasonable placement fee that is in accordance with POEA rules and regulations. Attending the government-prescribed pre-departure orientation seminar is also a must because this will help you be more mentally prepared for the difficult journey ahead,” the Center said.

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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