DUBAI: A guidebook that will help Filipinos in the UAE rise above socio-economic predicaments was launched in Dubai on June 6.
The 140-page book, “Essential OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) Guide to UAE”, is a result of the free legal assistance which Gulf Law has been extending to at least 6,000 Filipinos across the seven emirates since Jan 2014, in coordination with the two Philippine diplomatic missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Atty. Barney Almazar, an International Business/European Union Law expert who has been in the UAE for four years after working at JP Morgan Chase and PricewaterhouseCoopers, is the author.
“If I would be able to educate the community of what they can and cannot do in the UAE, it would be a good step for them to avoid being in conflict with the law,” Almazar told The Gulf Today.
The Gulf Law-Corporate Commercial Department director and businessman, who is a holder of a Business Administration degree from the University of the Philippines, pointed out that most of the OFWs who have been in the UAE for between three and five years “do not know where their earnings have been”.
“I want them to maximise their stay in the UAE so that they can be reunited with their families back home,” he said.
Almazar believes that if OFWs and their families can imbibe the culture of financial literacy or proper income management—and are also encouraged that they can set up a business for even Php1,000 (Dhs100)—then, the cycle of migration which often damages family life can be brought to an end.
He echoed the Manila migration policy: “Migration should be a choice and not out of necessity.”
The guidebook is not boring. It hits the bull’s eye since it tackles the five common problems of OFWs in the UAE namely: indebtedness, intoxication/illegal drugs, immorality, illegal recruitment, and improper documents. On addressing indebtedness it reads: “Kahit walang ipon, basta may iPhone” (Savings are immaterial as long as there is an iPhone).
On tackling illicit affairs it states: “Nag-abroad ka para guminhawa ang iyong pamilya, hindi magkaroon ng ibang pamilya (You are overseas for a greener pasture for your family and not to have another family).”
About the OFWs’ complaints regarding the media, veteran Filipino broadcast journalist Rachel Salinel-Los Banos is quoted in the guidebook: “Be always informed of the news by using all available communications medium and sites in the Internet so that while working in the UAE, you will be equipped with information that can guide you in your chosen profession and state of life as Filipino expats.” The guidebook is about the UAE as “The Land of Opportunity” with basic facts about the country.
It delves into the full cycle of migration from the time a Filipino decides to work in the UAE to his return to his homeland.
Topics include visa, deportation, immigration blacklist and appeals; social ethics; respect for religion; UAE price guide; comparison between the Philippine and UAE laws; job interview tips and salary guide; labour laws and labour rights; responsible use of the social media; consumer rights; issues surrounding marriage, family, child support and children’s education; and business structures in the UAE.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a multi-award winning Constitutional Law and International Law expert, expressed gratitude for the efforts of Gulf Law and Almazar in assisting the Philippine government in its efforts to help OFWs in the UAE benefit from their stay in the Gulf state.
In her correspondence to Almazar, she wrote that caring for OFWs is a “colossal task we may never fully accomplish. I heave a sigh of relief today, knowing that private sector groups, including Gulf Law, are willing to lend a hand. May others follow your example.”
The first 20,000 copies of the guidebook will be distributed for free during the June 12 Philippine Independence Day celebrations in Abu Dhabi (Dalma Mall), Dubai (Al Nasr Leisureland) and Ras Al Khaimah (Iceland Water Park).