By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter
The Philippine embassy in Doha wants overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to “think and rethink” before applying for loans.
“As it is easier to get a loan here, you will grab it immediately. But you should see to it that you are able to pay the outstanding amount no matter what happens,” said vice-consul Melvin Almonguera.
A Post-Arrival Orientation Seminar (PAOS), which will be held at 9am today at the church complex in Abu Hamour, will discuss this issue as well.
Some 300 OFWs are expected to attend the activity aimed at creating awareness about some of the laws that have to be followed in the country. It also aims to inform the attendees about the services offered by the embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO).
Almonguera cited some cases of OFWs who have been jailed after failing to settle their bank loans. One of the reasons is termination from work and the company refuses to issue a no-objection certificate (NOC) even to those who have been locally hired.
“We want our fellowmen to reassess and think many times before deciding to avail of a loan. Otherwise, there will be legal implications,” the vice-consul stressed. He believes that the PAOS will help educate many OFWs about the pros and cons of securing a bank loan.
It is learnt that a number of expatriates (even other nationalities) in the country are facing different kinds of problems arising from non-payment of financial liabilities.
One source disclosed that many of them are already serving their respective sentences in the Central Jail. He cited a case where an expatriate was expecting to be repatriated after serving his sentence for a certain period of time. However, he was told that he still has to pay the loans before being allowed to go back to his country.
The source disclosed that the person was sent back to jail just last month after he failed to produce the money needed to pay his debt. “The sentence he had already served was only the criminal aspect and he still has to deal with the civil aspect,” said the source. “But without the NOC, how can he find a job and pay the remaining balances?”
Almonguera said OFWs should remember that employment in a foreign land is only temporary and each country has a different set of laws concerning debts.
A group of Filipinos had earlier signed a memorandum of understanding with the Philippine embassy to conduct seminars like the PAOS.
The Foundation for Family and Life (FFL) migrant workers hold seminars in various areas, especially Al Khor and the industrial areas, where most underprivileged OFWs live.
However, it was learnt that the PAOS could not be held for many expatriate workers “probably because of the government’s limited resources to do it”. This is where groups like FFL Migrant Workers come into the picture.
Besides lecturing and giving advice, the group also conducts feasibility studies for them to understand the problems and needs of their target beneficiaries.
In a bid to reach more OFWs, Almonguera said they would organise the PAOS at least once every quarter with the help of different groups accredited by the embassy. OFWs are also
required to attend a “pre-departure seminar” in the Philippines before leaving the country.
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