Filipinos ask for talks with their diplomats

The UAE branch of Migrante is pushing for a monthly "case conference" with Filipino diplomats to follow up on overseas Filipino workers, according to a paper released by the rights group. The dialogue was among the recommendations made by Yuri Cipriano, the vice chairman of Migrante-UAE, an organisation created to protect Filipino workers abroad, for a proposed rights and welfare committee that would cover Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

Mr Cipriano said he hoped the committee could help Filipino workers receive better treatment when they seek help from the consulate and the Philippine overseas labour office in Dubai. Filipino workers have had unpleasant experiences with these government agencies, he said. "Instead of a warm welcome, our compatriots claimed they were shamed and reprimanded in public," he said. "Others were blamed for their problems."

Philippine diplomatic officials were not available for comment. Migrante's new committee would look into cases of labour contract violations, illegal recruitment, human trafficking of Filipinas, and the various issues of household workers who are not covered by the labour law. "We will invite our consulate and labour officials in Dubai to attend this meeting," said Mr Cipriano. "We'd like to know the assistance rendered and status of the labour disputes and police and court cases referred by the committee."

Robert Ramos, the chairman of the Filipino organising committee in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, announced plans to create rights committee at the first migrants' forum in Dubai on June 18. He is backed by Migrante-UAE, which this month released a six-page paper outlining the rationale behind the committee, its structure, objectives, projects and budget. Mr Ramos, who will be stepping down as chairman, is expected to present the agenda of the new committee to the heads of 80 Filipino organisations before they vote for his successor, an election tentatively scheduled for August 31.

The majority of these organisations foster camaraderie among their members, enhance their interests and talents, and organise gatherings and festivities and occasionally charity work, said Mr Cipriano. "The promotion of the welfare and rights of Filipino migrant workers, particularly abuse victims, is not given enough attention," he said. Among its duties, the paper suggested, the rights and welfare committee would be an advocate for workers, conduct research on their issues and encourage all Filipino organisations to look into the main causes of migrants' problems, recommend programmes or solutions.

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