OFW records labor attaché's alleged 'rude remarks' on cell phone; attaché belies claim
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino migrant groups in Hong Kong are demanding the recall of a labor attaché for allegedly insulting and neglecting a distressed Pinay worker.
Migrante and the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL) want Labor Attache Romulo Salud fired from the Philippine Consulate for his alleged callous treatment of OFW Agnes Tenorio.
Tenorio sought the help of the Philippine Consulate after her contract was illegally terminated by her Hong Kong employer.
“Kaninang umaga nagkaroon ng press con yung UNIFIL Migrante HK para ilantad yung ginawa sa kanya ni Labatt (Labor attaché) Salud,” said Gina Esguerra, secretary-general of Migrante International.
Based on the statement of the 29-year-old OFW from Bulacan, she came to Hong Kong on September 23, 2010. Five days later, her agency brought her to her employer’s residence where she was told to clean 3 rooms and 2 toilets.
After 2 hours, she was told by her employer to pack her things and was forced to sign a blank paper which she refused.
“Iniharap pa ako sa isang video camera at pinipilit akong magsabi na 'the house is very big, I cannot do the work.' Tumanggi din akong magsalita at umiiyak na ako,” Tenorio said.
The OFW said Salud had asked her what she wanted to do. She said she initially asked for a return ticket and her debts with the agency canceled. However, she changed her mind after a volunteer at the Mission for Migrant Workers explained to her rights to her.
Tenorio told Salud of her plan to remain in Hong Kong to file a labor case against her agency and employer, which the labor attaché reportedly did not like.
The alleged rude treatment she received from Salud happened the time she was requesting for an extension of her stay at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC).
Before she entered Salud’s office, she decided to record their conversation on her mobile phone.
“Bago ako pumasok sa kuwarto naisipan kong irecord ang aming usapan dahil sa tuwing may magtatanong sa akin kung bakit hindi ako lumapit sa consulate, ang sinasabi ko ay hindi rin ako natulungan ng tama at ayaw itong paniwalaan ng ibang kapwa ko migrante na aking nakakausap,” Tenorio said.
Salud allegedly made rude remarks while she was explaining her change of plan to fight for her rights.
In the recording, Salud was quoted as saying, “ 'Wag mong gagamitin yang karapatan. Dahil karapatan ko rin… kung tatanggapin kita o hindi. 'Wag mong pagdidiinan mo sa akin yang karapatan mo ha?”
Migrante said it is considering legal action against Salud. The actual audio recording was uploaded by UNIFIL-Migrante on YouTube
Labor Attache explains side
For his part, Salud denied making rude remarks against the OFW. He also reiterated the strict Hong Kong Privacy Ordinance where audio recording without the consent of the other party is not allowed.
“Wala po akong sinabing salitang masama. Normal po lang yung boses ko na ganun,” said Salud when interviewed by ANC’s Top Story on Tuesday.
He also stressed that they immediately assisted Tenorio when she asked for their help to let her stay at the FWRC after being terminated by her employer.
“Ang ginawa po ng ating OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) welfare officer ay tumawag siya ng isang tao doon sa center upang tagpuan siya. Kinabukasan dinala siya sa opisina at yun na nga po nagiiyak siya sa opisina at sinasabi niyang gusto na niyang umuwi. Ang gusto lang niya ay ticket pauwi at saka yung utang niya sa Pilipinas ay ma-clear na,” said Salud.
Salud said they called up Tenorio’s agency who promised to immediately produce a plane ticket and clear her debts.
“Noong nagkita muli sa aking opisina nabago na po ang istorya ni Agnes at ayaw na daw nyang umuwi at doon nga po nangyari yung sagutan ng karatapan nya na maghain ng kaso at kunin ang nararapat na para sa kanya,” he said.
Salud said he remains concerned for the OFW and directed a welfare officer to focus on her case.
“Yung ating welfare officer ay ating inutusan na tutukan yung kaso niya, at katunayan kung anong suporta ang kailangan niya, nakahanda pong tumulong ang ating welfare officer,” he said.