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Kuwait diplomat’s undocumented maid flies home after POLO rescue

06 March 2018

 By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina helper hired by a Kuwaiti diplomat to work in his mother’s house in Kuwait City flew home tonight, Mar 6, after being rescued by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office from the employer’s Hong Kong residence four days earlier.

The 29-year-old mother was escorted to the Hong Kong International Airport by a POLO staff, she said.

Jenelyn Tawon called POLO on Mar 2 seeking the labor office’s help after realizing her visa in Hong Kong was for a visitor and did not allow her to work in the city legally.

“Kasi sa pagkakaalam ko, wala akong visa, illegal na ako. Wala namang sinasabi ang amo ko,” Jenelyn Tawon said to explain why she left her job.
Tawon, a mother of three teenagers, said she found out she was working in Hong Kong in breach of the law only when the diplomat and his family brought her along to Macau for a holiday in January.

Upon their re-entry into Hong Kong, Immigration officers inspected her passport lengthily that her employer got so upset. “Sabi nila wala akong record,” Tawon told The SUN in an interview.

That experience scared her because she had no work visa, and it prompted her to decide to leave her job.

“Kasi sa pagkakaalam ko, wala akong visa, illegal na ako. Wala namang sinasabi ang amo ko,”Tawon said.

She said in terms of working hours, she began doing her chores around 6am and finished at 3pm. But her complaint was that she had only one meal each day, not enough to sustain her for the day’s work.

In Kuwait, Tawon was paid 120 Kuwaiti dinar, equivalent to roughly PhP20,800 while in Hong Kong, she was paid $4,000, substantially below the $4,410 minimum wage for domestic workers.

She said the employer paid her salaries before she left. On Monday, the Kuwaiti delivered to POLO her plane ticket, but the Filipina found out only late in the day that it was only a Hong Kong-Manila passage and no onward ticket to General Santos City.

Tawon told The SUN she asked the employer to also provide a ticket for the connecting flight from Manila to GenSan, but the diplomat refused. That means she will have to buy the ticket on her own.

Tawon was hired by the diplomat through an agency named Non-Stop Employment Agency in GenSan and she flew to Kuwait on Oct 26 last year. After more than a month, the employer took her with his family to Hong Kong because the children were studying in the city.

She said in her less than five months’ stay with the employer, she could not go out except on Fridays, when she took her two young wards to the park because they had no classes.

“Kapag lumalabas kami ng mga bata ay gabi na. Hindi ako talaga makakalabas mag-isa,” the maid said.

But it was on one of those days when she met some Filipinas who heard about her situation and advised her to contact POLO. They gave her the number to call.  

So, on Mar 2, Tawon rang up POLO and Labor Attaché Jalilo dela Torre sent a staff to fetch her.

The Filipina said the diplomat agreed to release her when she told him somebody from the Consulate was coming to pick her up. The employer gave back her passport, which he had kept in line with the practice of employers in the Middle East.

Tawon said she had no claims against the employer. Meanwhile, she said she had not told her husband about her impending arrival. “Gusto ko i-surprise ang bana ko. Yung bunso ko lang pinagsabihan ko,” she said.

She said her husband is a farmer so they have livelihood in the province. “Maghahanap na lang ako ng work dito kung may pambayad na ako sa agency,” she said.

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