Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Filipino 'Tourist Workers' in Dubai A Growing Cause of Concern

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Many Filipino tourists arriving in Dubai to apply for jobs are ending up seeking help from the Philippine Consulate Gneral after falling victims of contract substitution or illegal recruitment, an official said.

Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes sought the help of 120 community leaders on Wednesday night during the second town hall meeting to address the pressing issue of trafficked Filipino women coming to Dubai for employment.

By definition, “tourist workers” according to the Philippine government are those who leave the country on tourist visas but whose main objective is to find jobs abroad. Filipinos can work abroad through direct hiring by foreign employers or coursed through licensed recruitment agencies accredited by the government in an effort to avoid becoming prey to illegal recruiters or human traffickers.

Around 100 of the 186 individuals the consulate has repatriated from January to the first week of June this year were trafficked or did not go through proper channels.

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Most of them are from provinces that, upon seeing them, “they’re so naive that they’ll believe anything promised to them,” Cortes said.

“They come here expecting to be English teachers because some of them are educated. But then they are picked up by whoever and transported directly to their new residence to work as household service workers (maids).”

Unscrupulous recruiters charge up to AED21,000 to employers who aim to hire Filipino workers illegally, as the country has stopped sending maids into the United Arab Emirates. Upon reaching the country, their contracts are substituted with less favorable terms. Such procedure is illegal as per the new ministerial decree 764 of 2015 that prohibits any alteration or adjustments to the contract terms unless approved by the ministry.

Most victims who become victims of illegal practice would likely seek help from the Consulate. According to Cortes, the Consulate receives up to ten complints a week of the same nature.

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A recent job fair in the UAE attracted some 12,000 jobseekers, mostly professionals with tourist visas, indicating that the Philippines has failed to properly screen genuine tourists from those those classified as “tourist workers.” As they hold proper visas, UAE considers their entry legal.

Cortes said they have alerted their home office and partner agencies of the situation to help solve the problem. But he said he needs the community to help out by alerting them if they know of any victims of trafficking.

“At the end of the day, we will need everybody’s vigilance. If you spot anyone who’s facing the same issues, tell us about it so we can extend assistance,” he added.

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