It was stressed by Atty. Barney Almazar in front of almost 200 overseas Filipino workers who attended Gulf Law’s free legal aid and seminar held at the Philippine Consulate office in Dubai on September 18.
Almazar specifically discussed the application of Article 15 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which states that “laws relating to family rights and duties or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.”
“It has been stressed that if you are married in the Philippines, you are not single in UAE [Unites Arab Emirates]. Moreover, private agreements or contracts between husband and wife, where the parties agree to live separately and have their new partners respectively, are against public policy and will not be given any legal effect,” he said.
When asked why Gulf Law decided to include Article 15 in its topics, Almazar toldKabayan Weekly that the said law “is important because it applies to all Filipinos even if they are in abroad.”
“There are fathers in UAE who will not provide support to their wife and children in the Philippines thinking that they are beyond the reach of Philippine laws since they are in UAE. This is not the case because Article 15 of the Civil Code of the Philippines is recognized by the Personal Status Law of the UAE,” he explained, noting that the provisions of the Family Code of the Philippines can be applied by the UAE courts when it comes to the issues of custody, support and other family-related cases.
In effect, he said, Filipinos in the UAE can choose to apply either of the UAE or Philippine laws relating to their family rights and obligations.
Single mothers sponsoring children
Aside from the family rights and duties, participants were also given a lecture on how single mothers can sponsor their children to the UAE.
If the biological father’s name is written in the child’s birth certificate, Almazar said a no objection certificate must be secured by the mother from the father before she can apply for the visa sponsorship.
“If the name of the father is not reflected in the [child’s] birth certificate, let’s say the father is ‘unknown’ as appearing in the birth certificate, the mother has to secure a document from the Embassy, Consulate or DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development], authenticated at the UAE Embassy in the Philippines, attesting that she has the sole custody over the child,” the lawyer added.
HSW not covered by Labor Laws
Meanwhile, Almazar reminded the household service workers (HSW) that they are not covered by the UAE Labor Laws, which disqualifies them from claiming benefits under the Labor Code.
“Another common issue is for household service workers to claim benefits under the UAE Labor Code. This is not possible since HSW are not subject to the rules of the Ministry of Labor as their employers are not companies but individual persons,” he explained.
As such, HSW are covered by the Immigration rules.
“To qualify for end of service and gratuity, HSW must ensure that these are reflected in their employment contracts,” he further advised.
Gulf Law’s next seminar is scheduled on October 2 at the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi. Topics to be discussed are Black List and Administrative List, Deportation, Visa Sponsorship, Immigration Fines and Waiver, Immigration Appeals, Marrying a Foreigner, Sponsoring your family, Child Support and Alimony, Illegal Affairs and Domestic Violence, Wills and Inheritance, and Registration of Marriage, Birth, Death.
Interested Filipinos can register for free at www.gulflaw.info. View Deal, an online platform for Filipino businesses, has prepared raffle prizes for the participants.
Since its inception in January 2014, Gulf Law’s monthly free legal aid clinics, being held alternately at the Philippine Embassy and Consulate, have so far assisted over 10,000 OFWs across the UAE.