Duterte wants DFA to look into 'acts of injustice' vs OFWs

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) — President Rodrigo Duterte promised to pay off the debts and arrange the papers of a stranded overseas Filipino worker and her child in Qatar during the pilot episode of his television show on Friday, Mula sa Masa, Para sa Masa.

READ: PCO to launch President's national TV show

One of the show's segments, "Hotline ng Masa," allows Filipinos seeking help to personally talk to the President.

It featured Nancy Aransanzo and her 10-year-old daughter Angela, who have been trying to make ends meet in Qatar by selling rice cakes and sleeping in venues of prayer meetings.

Nancy, who was legally employed in Qatar, said her former boss terminated her contract 13 years ago when she refused to put up an illegal hiring firm.

Aransanzo said they were blocked from going home to the Philippines since she still has to pay 96,000 Qatari Riyal or around ₱1.3 million for clearance.

"Pagpunta po namin sa deportation, hindi po kami tinanggap kasi kailangan po daw, meron kaming clearance pa na babayaran tungkol sa bahay namin na dati pa. Pero hindi po namin alam kung paano naging 96,000 Riyal po yun, walang ibabayad talaga," she said.

[Translation: We were denied by the deportation since we still have to pay 96,000 Riyal for the clearance of our former residence. We don't know how it came to that amount, but we don't have money to pay for it.]

Duterte immediately promised to help Aransazo.

"Punta kayo sa embassy natin, babayaran ko yung utang ninyo, at bigyan kayo ng travel documents," Duterte said.

[Translation: Go to our embassy, I will pay for your debt, and I will ask for the issuance of your travel documents.]

The President also advised OFWs to go to the embassies to seek help.

"We have always the embassy, and if I have time, I will personally help the Foreign Affairs Department to look into this. Give more focus into acts of injustice and we will do the necessary things to help you," he said.

READ: 105 OFWs under Saudi amnesty program back in PH

Former Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who was confirmed as Foreign Affairs secretary on May 18, was with Duterte when he visited three countries in the Middle East – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Bahrain, and Qatar – over the Holy Week.

In this trip, Duterte promised OFWs that he will create a separate department to focus on their welfare.

Today, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, an attached agency of the Labor Department, looks into the welfare of OFWs and their dependents.

READ: Duterte visiting Middle East on Holy Week

More than 200 OFWs who availed of KSA's amnesty program went home after Duterte's six-day trip in the Middle East.

READ: 138 OFWs from Saudi arrive in PH with Duterte

Duterte said he wants to use the TV program to know the struggles of the OFWs.

"If we can just continue with the program so we can have communications with our countrymen outside the Philippines at hindi talaga namin alam ang mga problema niyo (we are not aware of your problems). Some are solvable, some are not, some it would take time for me to solve the problem, but you have my assurance na kami po ay trabahante lang sa gobyerno (we are only workers of the government)," Duterte said.

Out of the 2.4 million OFWs, 55,000 are in Qatar, according to 2015 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The pre-recorded, one-hour show airs in People's Television 4 every 7 p.m. and shown via Facebook Live in the Presidential Communications Operations page.

The program took off from Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa, Duterte's weekly show when he was Davao City mayor.

Vice President Leni Robredo also co-hosts a weekly public service radio program, BISErbisyong Leni, which airs on RMN-DZXL 558 kHz.

READ: Robredo launches first episode of weekly radio show