Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has suspended a welfare officer based in Dubai on allegation from an irate overseas Filipino worker (OFW) that he cussed at her.
According to reports, the welfare officer, Danilo Flores, allegedly lost his temper when the OFW, identified on her live Facebook post regarding the incident as Joy Parafina, inquired on the phone about food aids for Filipinos who have lost their jobs in Dubai due to COVID-19.
The video post has gone viral.
“Please be advised that welfare officer Flores is hereby suspended from the performance of his duties as welfare officer, pending investigation of the incident,” Bello said.
The matter apparently stemmed from an inquiry that Parafina made at a West Zone hypermart branch about a food assistance program by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). She said she was handed two bags of 5-kg rice and a small box of groceries.
She said she was told by the staff that the food was a donation from the hypermart company. She added that she asked for a receipt but was told there was none.
A well-placed government source privy to the incident however explained that it was not a donation but was actually paid for through the program under which 150 boxes were prepared – 50 for active OWWA members and 100 for inactive members.
The source said OWWA has the receipts for the transaction to the amount of Dhs28,625.
“Hindi kasi kami makalabas dahil sa quarantine kaya naisip namin na bumili sa (hypermart chain),” said the source, further explaining that per regulation, Dh200 is appropriated for active OWWA members and Dh300 for inactive ones.
“Transparent ito,” said the source. “May resibo.”
West Zone, the hypermart chain working with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Dubai on its food relief efforts for distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) has suspended its participation over the controversy.
Raju Gidwani, director of Shankar Trading Co. and the West Zone Group, said the transaction with POLO was aboveboard.
“West Zone is providing free logistics and distribution support in this crucial time to the community,” Gidwani said.
“The entire food package cost was borne by OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administrarion which runs POLO) with the consulate of the Philippines in Dubai,” he added.
Gidwani said “everything was documented.”
Gidwani said he is “very disappointed with all this.”
“We selflessly support the Filipino community in this crucial period but in return… Due to controversy we suspend this initiative until further notice,” Gidwani said.
He said there were 23 different products inside the relief package aside from the two bags of rice.
“Do you think it’s not sufficient food package at this moment? She gave a statement that it’s only rice and few snacks,” Gidwani said.
Parafina said Flores called her a “son of a ___.”
“Isang welfare officer sa Dubai, si Dan Flores ang pangalan na ibinigay nya sa akin. Ito ang kakapag-usap lang naming at minura nya ako. Tinawag nya akong ‘anak ng _____,’” Parafina said on her live post.
The source said Flores actually said “namputsa.”
Parafina was praised and congratulated by fellow OFWs for making a stand on the matter.
On her Facebook post, Parafina said Flores should be terminated from his job.
“Ito po ay simula pa lamang. Hindi po tayo titigil na mapatalsik o ma-alis ang taong yan kasama ng mga kagaya niya. Ako po ay nanawagan sa lahat ng OFWs sama sama tayo. Magkaisa at ipetisyon natin ang mga katulad ni Dan Flores,” she said.
The matter is under investigation.