THREE of seven Bacolodnon overseas workers who were maltreated in Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia arrived in Bacolod City and were reunited with their families Monday.
They were able to come home with the help of their families and the Sectoral Concerns Office (SCO) of the Bacolod City Government.
Among those who arrived home were Reynold Diosana of Barangay Mansilingan, Ronelo dela Torre of Barangay Sum-ag, and Manny Berueda of Barangay Mandalagan.
Two others -- William Tan and Zaldy Candeluna -- are also expected to arrive in the city anytime this week.
Diosana and wife Shyrell, together with dela Torre and wife Gerlyn, appeared before the SCO on Monday to extend their gratitude to Mayor Evelio Leonardia, SCO head lawyer Vicente Petierre, and assistant Jeff Esperazante for the assistance extended to them while abroad.
The victims said they have traumatic experiences in Saudi Arabia after the court's total reverse of the decision. They, however, were paid of their salaries as they returned home.
Diosana was paid 5,062 Saudi Riyal, plus his last salary of 2,283 Saudi Riyal or an equivalent of P88,140. Dela Torre, on the other hand, was paid P72,000 and 1,750 Saudi Riyal.
Diosana said he felt happy and sad after the homecoming. "It's sad because of my traumatic experience working for eight months in Saudi Arabia and very happy when we earlier arrived there, believing that was a great opportunity for us to earn a living for our respective families."
"We could not explain the level of happiness that we all felt, the first time we arrived in Saudi. But all our dreams turned into nightmares, expecting these things will never happen and worst, we were forced to do wrong and work illegally - stealing. But I'm happy that I am already with my family. I thought we can earn more there but we all returned with debts, instead," he added.
Diosana was hired as a dump truck driver, but turned a trailer driver.
"What was traumatic there was we were told by our company to steal sand and gravel for the project. I did it but with so much opposition in my heart. We're poor but we were raised in honest means and I will not steal if I had a choice," he said.
Dela Torre, on the other hand, said he received a salary for three months amounting to 2,500 Saudi Riyal or P30,000 but was only paid P72,000 and another 1,750 Saudi Riyal or P21,000 for his plane ticket.
He said they were made to work for 15 hours instead of eight hours. They were promised to receive $400 but when they got there, they were only paid 900 Saudi Riyal.
They also said that under the contract, their accommodation and food will be free. But when they arrived in Saudi, they stayed in a container van near the cemetery and bought their own food and paid for their lodging.
The two workers also said their contract was supposed to be two years, but was made three years, pushing them to file charges against PERT/CPM Manpower Agency in Manila through its local office in Bacolod City in 2009.
In March 24, 2010, the families of these seven overseas workers asked assistance from the Bacolod City Government through the SCO.
The SCO immediately contacted the victims and validated their problems and brought the matter to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Overseas Employment Agency and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Manila.
Constant telephone calls and written communications were made to the said agencies and regular contacts with the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through Labor Attache Des Dicang and Welfare Officer Von Ryan Nacino.
After the May elections, the victims' families suggested to approach the Mayor Leonardia and Congressman Anthony Golez for intervention and enough assistance to their cause.
On May 31, 2010, Labor Attache Dicang said that PERT/CPM Manpower Agency's Mr. Nacino finally promised Congressman Golez to repatriate the seven overseas workers and requested to be given until June 5, 2010 to complete the processing of the tickets back home.
However, weeks passed and the recruitment agency failed in its promise.
On June 28, 2010, families of the victims paid the employer and started facilitating their repatriation papers, exit visas and release papers from Jubail Court and finally, Diosana, dela Torre and Berueda booked on July 10, 2010 for Manila and Bacolod early morning of July 12, 2010.
Tan and Candeluna were booked anytime this week, while Velasco and Alanza are still waiting for their families to source enough finances to pay the employer. (Carla N. Canet)