Just like their compatriots based elsewhere, Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates have their share of things that they struggle on, as a legal expert sheds light on them.
Lawyer Barney Almazar, Gulf Law director and author of The Essential OFW Guide to UAE, said there are five issues that Filipino ex-pats in the UAE face. He explained their root causes, mainly traced to failure to adjust from life in the Philippines to live in the UAE.
Financial-related problems such as getting buried in credit card bills, and inability to pay loan repayments, bounced checks, use of passport as a guarantee to secure loans and falling victims to loan sharks. Almazar suspects that the failure to get accustomed to the new lifestyle in the UAE from the Philippines and get to overspend beyond their limits. He added that it becomes unusual to find Filipinos whose minimum required payment for credit card and loan bills far exceeding their monthly income.
Probably similar to the first issue which deals with failure to make necessary adjustments in the new environment, Filipinos have been used to unregulated consumption of alcohol in the Philippines. In the UAE, a permit is required before residents can consume alcohol. In line with this issue, the use and trading of illegal drugs also get some Filipinos in the UAE in trouble.
Living without the benefit of marriage is discouraged in the Catholic-majority Philippines, but involvement in such a love case does not constitute a criminal offense. However, in the UAE, living together under one roof for unmarried males and females — even without sexual relationships — is considered a criminal offense.
The case gets uncovered when the woman gets pregnant, as before delivering the baby, a marriage certificate is required. Without such a document, it is presumed that the man and woman are both liable to a criminal offense.
4. Illegal recruitment.
Some Filipinos arrive in the UAE as tourists who start looking for jobs, or those whose contracts signed in the Philippines are substituted with a new deal — and often less favorable to the worker — as they begin life as migrant workers.
Tourists, whose limited amount of time to stay in the UAE, become vulnerable to unfavorable employment terms set by employers who command better bargaining power. Although they can leave their jobs on a working visa, employers chase after Filipino workers who fail to fulfill their contractual obligation.
5. Not official documentation.
Some Filipinos secure fake or forged documents such as tenancy contracts, a requirement that allows them to sponsor family members to come over to UAE. However, such materials are tracked online by government agencies, rendering fake documents easily detectable. Falsifying public documents — those that bear the official stamp of the government of the UAE — are subject to more substantial penalties than faking private documents.
Almazar also heads the free legal aid clinics held at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai and Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
A total of 679,819 Filipinos live in the UAE, of which 450,000 live in Dubai, and they form 21.3% of the population of the UAE.