12/12/2008 | 07:43 PM
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino workers terminated in Taiwan who came to see President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on invitation of Malacaňang were allegedly duped into making them believe that there is a livelihood program for them to cushion the impact of the economic crisis.
In a press statement, Migrante International quoted some of the workers as saying they were expecting at least a brief dialogue with the President, but were disappointed when their meeting was turned allegedly into a “photo-op” for administration.
“We were expecting to meet and talk with the President. But the President only came when the cameras started rolling. While in front of the cameras, President Arroyo herself handed checks to 4 of our representatives. After the ceremony, we were asked to immediately turn the checks over to the Technological Resource Center as the funds were allegedly for a livelihood program for us which we still needed to apply for. It was not what we were asking for at all!” lamented Cristina de Borja, one of the retrenched OFWs.
The incident happened on December 5 when Labor Secretary Marianito Roque and OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimson herded the OFWs from OWWA to Malacanang.
De Borja continued, “Our demands are just and simple. We need the immediate reimbursement of our airfare and placement fee, and the payment of the unexpired portion of contract. At this moment, we are in crisis; we do not have any job, we are in debt and our main worry is how to feed our children. We cannot afford to stand in line and apply for some kind of assistance package which may turn out to be a loan and which could take months to process! We want President Arroyo to tell us that the Philippine government will do everything in her power to enforce our valid contracts!”
“But she did not speak to us at all! After the photo gimmick, she left, without a word to us!” Cristina bewailed. “Our hopes turned to utter dismay. We feel so betrayed, to be used as a media gimmick by the President herself!
The “assistance package” which the OFWs called a “bagful of brochures” was a simple native bag containing a demo-CD of the SSS, a certificate from TESDA, a certificate from Malacaňang, and flyers from OWWA and other related agencies.
“Our creditors, who saw that brazen lie enacted by Malacaňang, are now threatening to sue us, believing we now have money to pay back the loans we incurred to get to Taiwan,” Cristina added.
Meanwhile, Migrante International chairperson, Garry Martinez called the incident “the height of opportunism.”
“This administration has, once again, exposed itself, in the most tasteless way, to be a scheming administration ready to do anything for a quick public relations fix! Before it was the general electorate she duped, now the people she has repeatedly called the “Bagong Bayanis.” – GMANews.TV