LABOR Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd threatened to sanction officials and employees of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Saudi Arabia for not elping the thousands of Filipinos there who lost their jobs.
“I won’t condone it. What happened is when they (POLO officials) arrived in a foreign country, they do nothing until they receive complaints [from Filipino migrant workers],” Bello said in a radio interview from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
“It’s an indication of irresponsibility,” he added.
Bello cited the tragedy that befell more than 11,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were stranded in Riyadh and Jeddah and the recent death of a Filipina rape victim.
He also narrated the case of an OFW who was to take a vacation in the Philippines but failed to leave because of a minor problem in his documents.
Bello lamented that because of the inefficiency and neglect of POLO personnel, “the hapless worker was not able to come home for three years.”
He said he learned about these problems not from the labor officials in Saudi Arabia but through the media and text messages.
“I came to know about the 11,000 stranded OFWs in Saudi through media interviews. It did not come from them (POLO),” the labor chief stressed. He said upon learning of the problem, he immediately ordered the recall of Rustico dela Fuente, the labor attache in Riyadh and Jainal Rasul Jr., the labor attaché in Jeddah.
On the case of rape victim Irma Edloy, Bello said he got mad when he saw the already comatose victim in a hospital in Jeddah.
Bello said he has ordered POLO officials to monitor OFWs in their areas of jurisdiction 24/7 and to submit reports on a regular basis.
“They should continuously monitor the whereabouts, the welfare and the status of our foreign migrant workers. They should not act only when there is a problem, that’s unacceptable,” the DOLE chief stressed. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL