• Group vows to assist OFWs jailed in Mid East

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: An association of more than 100 recruitment agencies in the Philippines has pledged to help overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who are languishing in jails in the Middle East, by funding trainings for Bangsamoro diplomats, lawyers and social workers.

    Under the plan, the Alliance of Recruitment Agencies of the Philippines (ARAP-OFW Foundation, Inc.) will send the first batch of the trained officers to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and augment the work force of the Philippine consular and embassy offices there.

    Raisonel Datu Magangcong, ARAP-OFW Foundation president, said the plan is already coordinated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which earlier formed a political party that will participate in the 2016 elections, about the plan.

    He pointed out that since the Bangsamoro religious leaders and professionals, who are actively engaged in the diplomatic community, are highly respected in the Middle East, they may be able to help and intercede for the affected overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

    The ARAP-OFW Foundation claimed that more than 100 Filipinos were sentenced to death in the Mid East countries while 7,000 others are on trial.

    Magangcong said the ARAP-OFW Foundation has already urged the national government to allocate more funds for the hiring of additional embassy personnel and consular officers in the Middle East.

    “Given those, we now see the fund being offered (by ARAP-OFW Foundation) as something that will help support and establish legal and humanitarian assistance for overseas Filipino workers in jails,” he also said.

    The group will also enter into a contract with the Bangsamoro leaders for the recruitment and training of Muslim diplomats, lawyers and social workers and enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for competency standardization training of embassy personnel.

    It said the partnership aims to raise competent delivery of the welfare of OFWs and effective rapport with employers and government of the host country.

    Just last week, both the ARAP-OFW Foundation and One Bangsa, whose convenor is Ambassador Alan Balangin, held a multi-sectoral forum in Makati City where the Bangsamoro Agenda and the welfare of the OFWs, among other important issues, were tackled.

    Also, the MILF-led United Bangsamoro Justice Party took the plight of OFWs as among the issues that it will tackle in the elections.

    Ghazali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman for political affairs, already adopted the policy proposal endorsed during the OFW forum. The proposal cited the “incapacity of embassy personnel to facilitate cases of Filipino workers, as well as the lack of effective program that addresses the psycho-social health of OFWs, especially in coping with homesickness and cultural shock.

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    1. ARAP-OFW Foundation are now preparing the first delegation composed of at least 15 key persons to visit jailed Filipinos abroad. In its meeting yesterday at a restaurant in Makati City, the Foundation has identified places to go in the Middle East such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and three big cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar. The group will also visit Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. The group of recruitment firms in Manila will shoulder all expenses of the delegation to visit the Filipino workers languishing in foreign jails.