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Filipino workers in Thailand take risks to help families back home


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Filipino workers in Thailand take risks to help families back home

By EUNICE BARBARA C NOVIO
SPECIAL TO THE NATION

 

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Jean Belmonte, second right, with IOM Philippines officials on her arrival at Manila airport on April 4.

 

WHILE Asean has liberated the free flow of skilled workers in the region and is considering human rights protection for migrants, Filipino workers have found themselves under threat of law enforcement in Thailand.

 

The Kingdom has used millions of legal and illegal migrant workers from the region. Under the Asean community, Bangkok welcomes skilled workers, while agreements with immediate neighbours, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, have seen millions of unskilled labourers allowed to work in Thailand.

 

But workers from the Philippines have different stories. On January 10 this year, Jean Marie Q Belmonte, 29, and Lilia Bercasio Mabansay, 45, were arrested by Thai immigration police on charges of working without labour permits and for overstaying.

 

Both Belmonte and Mabansay had been working in a restaurant owned by an Emirati national in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit area.

 

They were told to pay Bt100,000 each for working without permission. The next day, their employer and a lawyer from the United Arab Emirates embassy arrived, but were unable to help the two Filipinas. On January 12, the two women were taken to court to hear the charges against them, and bail was set at Bt50,000 each. 

 

Belmonte and Mabansay were taken to Bangkok Women’s Correctional Institution in Klong Prem Central Prison. Belmonte was able to post bail with the help of friends and released on January 17. She was supposed to go straight to the airport for deportation, but was unable to pay the airfare, so her passport was withheld by the authorities until March 30.

 

Mabansay spent the maximum 48 days in prison before being transferred to the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Suan Phlu. The Filipino community in Bangkok raised cash for her airfare and she was deported on March 28.

 

The Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through its Social Welfare Attache Office, has provided Mabansay with psycho-social counselling. It also provided her with transportation assistance, including funds for incidental expenses when she returned to her family in Iriga City, 400 kilometres southeast of Manila.

 

In a letter from the Philippine Overseas Labour Office, Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod said Belmonte and Mabansay had no Thai employment record in the database of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency. Despite working illegally, the DSWD was firm in assisting the two. Secretary Judy Taguiwalo sought the assistance of International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for Belmonte’s repatriation. 

 

Belmonte voluntarily returned to the Philippines from Bangkok on April 4. IOM-Philippines met her at the Ninoy Aquino Airport. She stayed one day at the DSWD shelter after receiving counselling.

 

Under IOM policy, Belmonte was given an Assisted Voluntary Return (AVVR) instead of the “Bali process”, as she was not a victim of trafficking.

 

According to the IOM website, AVVR offers administrative, logistical, financial and reintegration support to rejected asylum seekers, victims of trafficking in human beings, stranded migrants, qualified nationals and other migrants unable or unwilling to remain in the host country who volunteer to return to their countries of origin. It is also a policy of the IOM not to be a part of any deportation proceedings because it is considered “forced movement of people”.

 

Belmonte was given a $200 cash grant and will be given a reintegration fund of $1,000 for livelihood or vocational/technical training.

 

Currently, there are 24 Filipinas held at Bangkok Women’s Correctional Institution. Their cases include drug-related crimes, theft and robbery. The youngest is 28, the oldest 62. There are also at least eleven Filipinos presently detained at the IDC waiting for tickets back to the Philippines.

 

According to Belmonte, once inside Suan Phlu IDC or at the women’s prison, the detainee is not allowed to make any communication. But the Philippine Embassy and members of the Filipino community visit prisons across Thailand to check on their situation and to give assistance to Filipino detainees.

 

Secretary Taguiwalo promised that the DSWD would assist individuals who will go back to the Philippines once they have served their sentence. She also visited the prisoners on March 31.

 

There are 17,921 Filipinos in Thailand and an estimated 4,000 are considered irregular or undocumented. 

 

The need for English teachers attracts Filipino professionals to Thailand. They usually enter as tourists and upon employment are given “Non-B” or working visas and work permits.

 

It is expected that the numbers will increase as the Asean Economic Community begins attracting low-income workers from countries including the Philippines to medium to high-income countries such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Trafficking and labour exploitation are among the issues Asean members must address.

 

Despite the increasing number of Filipinos, the Philippine Embassy has only 26 staff. There is no Philippine Overseas Labour Overseas office either. 

 

The embassy does not have legal counsellors to advise or assist Filipinos in distress or a “quick response” fund that can be immediately tapped when Filipinos need to be immediately deported but have no money for the airfare. It takes time for funds to be released to a Filipino in distress.

The Asean Summit will be held in the Philippines on April 28-29. 

 

It is expected that the draft instruments on the Asean Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrants will be finalised.

 

Belmonte and Mabansay have been reunited with their families. But the increasing poverty in the Philippines means there will be more people like them who will take risks just to give a better life to their loved ones.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/national/30312361

 

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2017-04-16
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Many Philippinos travel as tourists in the ASEAN Region and work illegally.  The law must be applied without exception. You break the law ,you face the music.  I am surprised though that the foreign employer was not fined ?

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15 hours ago, Mickmouse1 said:

Many Philippinos travel as tourists in the ASEAN Region and work illegally. The law must be applied without exception. You break the law ,you face the music.  I am surprised though that the foreign employer was not fined ?

I can only agree with you about applying the law without exception.  About breaking the law and facing the music I am afraid the reality might be a bit different.  I do understand however, why the Philippinos take the risk.  It is very, very bad over there.  And getting worse.

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Props to thailand for actually protecting the jobs of their own people.

 

The disgraceful government of Philippines should use their own resources to create jobs for their own citizens instead of allowing them to leach off other economies. 

 

In singapore filipinos do a lot of jobs that the locals won't touch….like being a maid, medical support staff and frontline service staff. The locals have no problem with this…but of late they have been encroaching into the white collar pmet jobs that locals compete for. They undercut the locals by 40-50% and this has the locals seriously pissed off.

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3 hours ago, JHolmesJr said:

Props to thailand for actually protecting the jobs of their own people.

 

The disgraceful government of Philippines should use their own resources to create jobs for their own citizens instead of allowing them to leach off other economies. 

 

In singapore filipinos do a lot of jobs that the locals won't touch….like being a maid, medical support staff and frontline service staff. The locals have no problem with this…but of late they have been encroaching into the white collar pmet jobs that locals compete for. They undercut the locals by 40-50% and this has the locals seriously pissed off.

The boss will always go for the lowest paid,so yes,there will be problems.The way to fix that is current employees demand equal pay for their fellow employees.This is what is going on in Australia as well and the govt turn a blind eye.

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3 minutes ago, louse1953 said:

This is what is going on in Australia as well and the govt turn a blind eye.

correct 100% .....  Australia PM doesn't care about jobs as they are suppose to.

The Australian gov let Telstra send it's call centres overseas ...  to the PH,  costing thousands of local jobs, same with NBN project to India ....  

Australian gov is dirt .... they do nothing.

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And there will be plenty more teaching jobs for Filippinos as well. Thailand used to be able to employ crappy native-English speakers for a pittance, but it seems that pittance isn't enough even for some of the worst native-speakers of English. 

 

Seeing as education here is huge business, will be interesting times ahead when these businesses won't take a single Baht loss on their profit. 

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1 hour ago, the guest said:

Interesting all illegals are held in detention centers until they find a way to pay for their air ticket home. EU should adopt this policy as well to discourage others from flocking to our shores.

Yep, that fear will certainly deter those fleeing war, persecution and violence. 

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1 hour ago, steven100 said:

correct 100% .....  Australia PM doesn't care about jobs as they are suppose to.

The Australian gov let Telstra send it's call centres overseas ...  to the PH,  costing thousands of local jobs, same with NBN project to India ....  

Australian gov is dirt .... they do nothing.

 

What a load of crap. Telstra is a company ,owned by shareholders and the obligation of the directors and the CEO is maximise shareholder profits. In fact, if they dont, they are breaching their director obligations and would face proscution under the Corporations Act.

 

The NBN company of which currently the Aus Govt is the owner has an obligation to the Aust people to obtain the best value for money for taxpayers. If an Indian company can supply a product cheaper than a local company and equal in quality, the local product to too expensive. That is how supply and demand works. Labour protection for overpaid and lazy workers is now over.

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1 hour ago, Bluespunk said:

Yep, that fear will certainly deter those fleeing war, persecution and violence. 

And its not as if the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are not held in detention centres in one European country after another, including the near-concentration camp conditions in Hungary. But kippers and their ilk imagine it is all wine, roses and honey being a migrant or refugee in Europe.

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1 hour ago, Reigntax said:

Labour protection for overpaid and lazy workers is now over.

Lets hope they don't start eyeing pension reductions. The happy decades are long gone. By past standards we are considered the new old walking rich kids. With the working standards and now wage standards world wide very few workers would side with us the old gold glory guys. 

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Massive amounts of overseas filipino workers in the Gulf states and Saudi. Watched the numbers increase more and more over the last ten years.

 

Working for an Emirati they probably thought they were safe, that appropriate payments had been made etc.

 

Things are bad in the Philippines which is why so many have to seek work overseas for what they can get. 

 

Fair play to Thailand though. They do enforce their immigration rules. 

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While presenting a fairly compelling case, the OP throws very large numbers around without any attribution, for instance:

"The Kingdom has used millions of legal and illegal migrant workers from the region. Under the Asean community, Bangkok welcomes skilled workers, while agreements with immediate neighbours, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, have seen millions of unskilled labourers allowed to work in Thailand".

Millions??   I don't think so.  Later in the post, it actually states:

"There are 17,921 Filipinos in Thailand and an estimated 4,000 are considered irregular or undocumented."

Reminds me of the NGO's looking for donations stating that millions of underage  girls are trafficked into Thailand every year.  Can you imagine the congestion on the trafficking trails if this were even remotely the case.

 

I really hate it when unsubstantiated numbers are thrown around like this as it can totally undermine what is a legitimate cause. 

Edited by dddave
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8 hours ago, Mickmouse1 said:

Many Philippinos travel as tourists in the ASEAN Region and work illegally. 

The law must be applied without exception. You break the law ,you face the music.

I am surprised though that the foreign employer was not fined ?

Do you feel just as strong to persons whom murders a police officer under the influence of drugs and drinks, flees the scene and then gets one of his staff to take the rap?

 

I wish the RTP would apply the law to ALL nationalities, regardless of WEALTH and STATUS.

Edited by MorristheRunt
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What a load of crap. Telstra is a company ,owned by shareholders and the obligation of the directors and the CEO is maximise shareholder profits. In fact, if they dont, they are breaching their director obligations and would face proscution under the Corporations Act.
 
The NBN company of which currently the Aus Govt is the owner has an obligation to the Aust people to obtain the best value for money for taxpayers. If an Indian company can supply a product cheaper than a local company and equal in quality, the local product to too expensive. That is how supply and demand works. Labour protection for overpaid and lazy workers is now over.


However much you defend it, it's clear that the Aus govt has the 'level playing field' mindset. This means exporting jobs. The level playing field they aspire to is Asia - where Aus is currently heading.
You want this?
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Lets hope they don't start eyeing pension reductions. The happy decades are long gone. By past standards we are considered the new old walking rich kids. With the working standards and now wage standards world wide very few workers would side with us the old gold glory guys. 


Pension reductions are aleady happening in Aus. Also being eyed is the refusal to pay the age pension to eligible Aussies if living out of Aus. This will happen one day.
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1 hour ago, elgordo38 said:

Lets hope they don't start eyeing pension reductions. The happy decades are long gone. By past standards we are considered the new old walking rich kids. With the working standards and now wage standards world wide very few workers would side with us the old gold glory guys. 

 

Pension reductions would be unfortunate but to main cause of this occurring is the middle income drain on welfare benefits and entitlements. Over the last 25 years it has got completely out of control.

The original intention of welfare was to look after those less fortunate or those lower paid who were unable to provide for retirement.

 

How often do you here "ive worked all my life, paid taxes and entitled to my pension"? This is just ignorance as the money they paid in taxes has been spent..on them.

The current welfare system is so abused that it is just creating debt on their children to pay. Superannuation over the last 25 years should eventually reduce some taxpayer burden but not for those we who cruised through life without making their own provision for retirement.

 

Australia is a place where everybody has the opportunity to live beyond their expectations but to do so takes some effort. Unfortunately many believe the government owes them a life, everything is the governments fault and the govts problems to solve.

 

The glory days are far from gone. It just that the current generation expect everything to be handed to them on a plate.

Edited by Reigntax
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22 minutes ago, bheard said:

 


However much you defend it, it's clear that the Aus govt has the 'level playing field' mindset. This means exporting jobs. The level playing field they aspire to is Asia - where Aus is currently heading.
You want this?

 

 

It doesnt mean exporting jobs. Its about opening up free trade where Aust for the last 50 years was a net exporter and the reduction of protective tariffs was a benefit. Yes, of course in some areas you will lose out. Thats how it works. You cant benefit all the time.

 

Australian manufacturing has needed to become more competative for the last 25 years. Union demands, unproductive work practices and the uncompetative nature of investing in Australian manufacturing due to red tape, compliance and high labour costs are the cause of jobs being lost offshore, not government policy.

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3 hours ago, Reigntax said:

 

Pension reductions would be unfortunate but to main cause of this occurring is the middle income drain on welfare benefits and entitlements. Over the last 25 years it has got completely out of control.

The original intention of welfare was to look after those less fortunate or those lower paid who were unable to provide for retirement.

 

How often do you here "ive worked all my life, paid taxes and entitled to my pension"? This is just ignorance as the money they paid in taxes has been spent..on them.

The current welfare system is so abused that it is just creating debt on their children to pay. Superannuation over the last 25 years should eventually reduce some taxpayer burden but not for those we who cruised through life without making their own provision for retirement.

 

Australia is a place where everybody has the opportunity to live beyond their expectations but to do so takes some effort. Unfortunately many believe the government owes them a life, everything is the governments fault and the govts problems to solve.

 

The glory days are far from gone. It just that the current generation expect everything to be handed to them on a plate.

Well its glorified greed then. Lets split the difference. 

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I don't support those working illegally but do have huge admiration and respect for the millions of Filipinos who make extraordinary sacrifices by working overseas in order to provide a better life for family members back home. Most of them do it with  good grace and a positive attitude rather than presenting themselves as martyrs; they are good souls, IMHO.

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Asean community, Bangkok welcomes skilled workers, while agreements with immediate neighbours, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, have seen millions of unskilled labourers allowed to work in Thailand.

 

Why is the  Philippines not included  ?

 

Looks like having English speaking skilled workers would take real jobs away , not the slave labor jobs the unskilled workers take ,

 

Thailand does love to have it both ways , 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, oldcarguy said:

Asean community, Bangkok welcomes skilled workers, while agreements with immediate neighbours, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, have seen millions of unskilled labourers allowed to work in Thailand.

 

Why is the  Philippines not included  ?

 

Looks like having English speaking skilled workers would take real jobs away , not the slave labor jobs the unskilled workers take ,

 

Thailand does love to have it both ways , 

 

 

If the neighboring economies are bolstered, they will buy Thai produced things, especially in the case of Laos and Myanmar which are somewhat behind Thailand in manufacturing. The Philippines are quite a distance away and increasing the earning power of Filipinos would not bolster the Thai economy as much. Also Filipinos tend to send a large % of their earnings back home to support family members which may contribute to this.

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I see a number of off-topic posts about pensions in other countries.   Although interesting, it is largely off-topic.  

 

Let's stick to the topic of Filipino workers in Thailand in this thread.  

 

 

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We had two Filipino teachers as neighbours here for two years; there are others in our area, Chanthaburi is an ideal location due to the number of Catholics here, churches, junior/high schools means they have an immediate social community to join. Good neighbours, lived economically and were able to save enough on their salaries to send some money home. They taught English and Japanese, believe they fitted in well with the staff and pupils.

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12 hours ago, Reigntax said:

 

What a load of crap. Telstra is a company ,owned by shareholders and the obligation of the directors and the CEO is maximise shareholder profits. In fact, if they dont, they are breaching their director obligations and would face proscution under the Corporations Act.

 

The NBN company of which currently the Aus Govt is the owner has an obligation to the Aust people to obtain the best value for money for taxpayers. If an Indian company can supply a product cheaper than a local company and equal in quality, the local product to too expensive. That is how supply and demand works. Labour protection for overpaid and lazy workers is now over.

so you say it's ok to let any company in the country you run ( as PM ) to give thousand of jobs to another country when your own backyard has high unemployment.

Well, as a PM I would do everything within my power to block that from happening.

sorry I disagreee with you .... it's not crap . !!   I doubt the US or UK would allow similar.

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