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Church helps overseas workers

Many Filipinos are 'physically abused' and 'treated like slaves'

Church helps overseas workers
Filipino migrant workers from Libya march in Manila to call for help from the Philippine government reporter, Cebu City

March 17, 2011

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A Church body in the central Philippines has decried the plight of Filipino migrants, most from the province of Cebu, who work in other countries. Gerry Gonzales, regional coordinator of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) in the Visayas, said many overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)  "are physically abused" and "are treated like slaves." Gonzales narrated the experience of a Filipino woman who recently returned from Libya after working for a royal family there. "She was hit daily. She did not know what suffering to expect the next day," said Gonzales. Data gathered by ECMI revealed that the province of Cebu has the most number of workers who seek employment abroad. In 2007, there were 50,267 OFWs from Cebu. The government's Overseas Workers Welfare Administration revealed that at least 98 of the 500 Filipinos stranded in Libya recently are from Cebu. Gonzales, however, could not provide data on the number of workers who encounter problems abroad. He said many get employment through agencies while others are hired directly by employers. While the government's Commission on Filipino Overseas Workers said at least three Filipinos die every day while working abroad, Gonzales said only two bodies are recovered. "Usually, these workers are hanged for a crime they committed, victims of construction accidents or work-related deaths," he said. PV13659.1645
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