Singapore — The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization, has forged a partnership with the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME), a non-government organization that provides temporary shelter to distressed migrant workers in Singapore to work jointly on cases involving trafficked Filipino women.
Former labor undersecretary and OFW advocate Susan Ople said the two NGOs agreed to help each other out in close coordination with the Philippine Embassy in Singapore in monitoring human trafficking cases involving Filipinos and providing the victims with a support network while running after their recruiters and abusive employers. Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Minda Cruz expressed full support to the partnership forged by the two NGOs.
HOME provides temporary shelters for trafficked victims and skills training programs for those who wish to learn new skills while waiting for their cases filed with the Ministry of Manpower and/or with the police force. Bridget Tan, founder and president of HOME, was among those awarded by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as one of the Anti-Trafficking Heroes of 2011.
“We decided to work together on certain cases such as that of a Filipina household whose hair was chopped off by her employer who would also hit her with a water bucket and a cane,” Ople said. On some occasions, the foreign employer would throw cooking oil and soy sauce at the Filipina worker and even instructed her kids to kick their maid and use the cane on her as the mother gleefully watched, laughing while the Filipina screamed in pain.
The Filipina worker called her Singaporean agency for help but the agency advised her to just stick with her employer. She suffered several beatings on the hands of her female employer who would also deduct one Singaporean dollar from her monthly salary when she commits a mistake.
Ople together with Third Secretary and Vice Consul Jed Llona of the Philippine Embassy and Millet Jose of the Philippine Office of Labor Overseas (POLO) paid a visit to the distressed worker and 41 other Filipinas sheltered at HOME. Several of the workers were deployed as tourist workers by illegal recruiters.
“Under our partnership, the Ople Center will request the Philippine Overseas Employment Admnistration to look into the circumstances behind the victim’s recruitment by a licensed agency. We shall also serve as the victim’s bridge to her family, making sure that they are kept abreast of the case,” Susan Ople explained. The Ople Center will also formalize in writing its request to the Philippine Embassy and POEA for the Singaporean agency and employer to be banned from hiring Filipino workers.
In Singapore, HOME will take care of providing temporary shelter to the said victim and in looking after her while her case has yet to be resolved. Both NGOs will be closely coordinating with the Philippine Embassy, which also agreed to closely monitor the case.
“The Ople Center hopes to forge similar partnerships with anti-trafficking NGOs overseas as part of our campaign against human trafficking and modern slavery,” Ople said.