For the many Filipinos living overseas, it’s important to have a voice or representation that will uphold and make sure that their rights as a minority (expat) group are taken into consideration always.
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And while this has been a challenge for Filipinos in other parts of the world since getting legal aid other than from the Philippine Consulate (if there’re other specializing law practitioners available) will mean added costs, which can be a bit too much for the ordinary OFW, who are usually in need of this service more often than not.
Pinoy Lawyer Directs Passion to Offering Free Legal Aid to Filipinos in UAE
Fortunately, Filipinos in the UAE have dedicated professionals who commit their service to helping their kababayan such as the 37-year old Filipino lawyer, Barney Almazar, who provides free legal aid to the Filipino community in the UAE, as featured in a report by the Khaleej Times.
Almazar has been a Dubai resident for seven years, and is the director of Gulf Law. He has been consistently recognized as one of the ‘100 Most Influential Filipinos‘ in the region, mainly because of the free legal advice he gives to his kababayan (countrymen).
Just last year, Almazar assisted a Filipino mother and her three children to waive a total of AED 712,400 in overstaying fines. He also provided legal aid to a Filipino who fell into an investment scam. Regarding this, a UAE court made a landmark decision and ordered the restitution of AED 1 million to his client, giving hope to thousands of others embroiled in the multimillion-dollar scam.
Almazar, in an interview with the Khaleej Times, shared, “I cannot contain my happiness knowing that the family’s harrowing experience after being victimised by fixers and overstaying in the UAE for years was finally over. For me, being able to assist someone to apply for pardon or amnesty brings immeasurable fulfilment especially when you know that they will finally be reunited with their family back home.”
Regarding his advocacy, Almazar shared that it is his joy to see overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) being reunited with their families back home, after the sacrifices and effort they’ve poured in to provide for them during their stay overseas.
As part of Almazar’s commitment to his advocacy, he writes a regular column titled ‘Sagot ka ni Attorney‘ (loosely translated as ‘An attorney will take care of you’) for a Filipino weekly circulated in the UAE and has created an interactive legal portal called ‘Ask Atty Barney‘ for all legal inquiries, including labour, financial, and even marital matters.
He also self-published and distributed 80,000 free copies of a comprehensive guidebook for Filipino expats titled ‘The Essential OFW (overseas Filipino workers) Guide to UAE’.
Almazar envisions to devote his legal practice in protecting Filipino migrant workers not just in the UAE but also in other GCC countries.