In a bid to help Philippine citizens get accustomed to laws in the UAE, and to enable them to live without complications, the Essential OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) Guide to UAE was launched recently.
“We want to have better and more informed Filipinos in the UAE. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and Filipinos will not be able to maximixe their limited stay in the emirate if they will be in trouble with law,” he wrote.
It highlights the five most common problems – indebtedness, intoxication, immorality, illegal recruitment, and improper documents – faced by the Filipino expat community.
The 144-page book, which is mostly in English and in parts in Tagalog, will be handed out to Philippine nationals for free.
Barney, who is the corporate-commercial director of Gulf Law and also the head of the free legal aid at the Philippine Embassy and Consulate, wrote the guidebook based on the data gathered from ‘the monthly free legal aid at the Consulate’.
“We have noticed the patterns of the common legal problems. We have been providing legal aid since January 2014 and more than 6,000 Filipinos have been given free legal assistance.”
According to Barney, the top 10 things that the book highlights as important are – employment laws , credit card/loans, visa and immigration, police cases, investing and savings, planning return to the Philippine and family matters.
“It is our hope that The Essential OFW Guide to UAE will reach and benefit our estimated 900,000 migrants across the emirate,” writes Grace Relucio Princesa, Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, in her foreword for the book.
Barney says similar initiatives are underway in other GCC countries. “Similar books for Saudi Arabia (with 1.2million OFWs) and Qatar (300,000 OFWs) are underway.”
Currently Barney and the Ambassador Grace Relucio Princesa are in the Philippines to launch it in Manila at the Department of Foreign Affairs. “The government is conducting a pre-departure orientation seminar for all Filipinos leaving the country so they can be familiarised with the laws and customs of their host country.
“The book will be a good supplement so they will be prepared even before they arrive at UAE.”
The book, which was launched in Dubai in June, includes formats of legal documents that can be used by the OFWs if they are “victimised by abusive debt collectors”.
“The feedback has been very good. We had 17,000 copies reserved before the launch of the book. Due to the high demand for the book, we are releasing the second printing of 100,000 copies (covering 15 per cent of total OFW population in UAE) by August.
“Even the Consul General of Peru and other nationalities have been requesting copies as majority of the contents can also be applicable to them.”
Barney added an app is under consideration, as it will “reach more Filipinos. It will be in English and Tagalog.”