OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) advocate Susan Ople urged the Bureau of Immigration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to bar the Singapore employers of Thelma Oyasan Gawidan from entering the country and from hiring any other Filipino worker in the future as the country’s show of support to the maltreated OFW.
Ople issued this call during the Christmas party of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasting Club held in Baguio City. The senatorial aspirant in the 2016 elections was in the city to meet with OFW families as part of the celebration of International Migrants Day.
“Let us express our outrage, first through legal channels by making sure that Thelma gets the support needed to win her case, and second, as an act of solidarity, by declaring the Singaporean couple as persona non grata, and permanently barring them from hiring any Filipino worker ever again,” she said.
Based on Giwadan’s testimony, her employers, Lim Choon Hong and his wife, Chong Sui Foon, both aged 47, have been maltreating her since January 2013 when she was first deployed to Singapore. The Singaporean couple starved the OFW for 15 months, causing her to lose weight from 49kg to 29kg.
According to news reports, Giwadan was fed only instant noodles and crackers, and was not even allowed to use the bathroom in the couple’s flat.
The OFW advocate who heads the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that assists distressed OFWs, called for stricter screening procedures for foreign employers seeking Filipino domestic workers.
“It is often the case that we get to know about the life story of the abused domestic worker but know so little about her abusers. In this case, it is important to check whether this Singaporean couple had previous cases of abuse involving foreign domestic workers,” she said.
Ople proposed that Philippine embassies and consulates immediately inform the Bureau of Immigration jointly with the POEA about cases involving maltreated, abused and enslaved Filipinos so that the perpetrators are never allowed to enter the country.