QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Nasa pito hanggang sampung milyong Pilipino ang nagtatrabaho bilang migrant workers sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng mundo, base sa datos ng Office of the Vice President (OVP) subalit sa bilang na ito, walang eksaktong datos o statistics ang OVP kung ilang migrant worker ang biktima rin ng human trafficking.
Sa isinagawang GO-NGO forum sa tanggapan ng Commission on Human Rights kanina, sinabi ni OVP Overseas Filipino Workers Concerns Head atty. Deogracias Grafil na ang kakulangan sa dokumentasyon at data-gathering ay bunsod ng hindi pakikipagkooperasyon ng mga host country.
Pinangangambahan rin ni Grafil na posible pang tumaas ang bilang ng mga migrant worker na inaabuso ng kanilang mga foreign employer.
Paliwanag ni Grafil, mayroong iba’t ibang klase ng pang-aabuso sa mga migrant worker. Kabilang rito ang walang day off, kulang na pasahod, long working hours, restriction of freedom of movement and association, at physical and sexual violations.
Dahil dito, lalong paiigtingin ng pamahalaan ang pagprotekta sa karapatan ng mga migrant worker, sa pamamagitan ng isang multilateral framework.
“Pakikipag-usap sa iba-ibang sangay ng gobyerno, kasama na ang NGOs at iba-ibang bansa para mapaigting ang security ng ating OFWs sa ibang bansa.” Iminungkahi ng OVP ang hakbang na ito dahil na rin sa optional na pagpapatupad ng mga host country ng migrant laborers’ rights at iba pang mga batas.
Maging sa pamilya ng mga foreign worker ay may nakahanda ring mga programa ang pamahalaan. Kabilang rito ang financial literacy, pagtatayo ng sariling negosyo at investments.
“Ang focus ni VP Binay, financial literacy, para anuman ang mangyari sa labas, makabalik ka dito sa Pinas, at least stable financially ang family”, dagdag ni Grafil.
Mahigit sa walong daang libong migrant worker ang ipinapadala ng Pilipinas sa ibang bansa taun-taon, at malaki ang naitutulong ng kanilang remittances sa paglago ng ating ekonomiya.
Nilinaw naman ni Grafil na hindi pa kasama sa statistics ng OVP ang mga undocumented overseas Filipino worker. (Bianca Dava, UNTV News)
MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Vice President (OVP) will be providing free shuttle service for frontliners and healthcare workers in Cebu City, a statement released on Sunday (July 5) said.
The statement read that the OVP Free Shuttle Service for Cebu health workers and frontliners will start Monday, July 6, as part of #BayanihanSugbuanon — the Vice President’s COVID-19 Response Operations in Cebu.
“Our pilot run will have initial three routes, with two trips each for morning and afternoon. Kindly refer to the individual cards for the full schedule for AM, AM reverse, PM, and PM reverse trips,” the statement further read.
“We are grateful to our partners, UBE Express, Seaoil, and Genergex Petroleum, whose support made this initiative possible,” it added.
The schedules and routes may be subject to adjustments, based on the needs that will be seen during the pilot run.
Meanwhile, the OVP and its partners will also start opening free dormitories for Cebu frontliners.
The first dormitory is located at Brgy. Banilad, Cebu City, near the North General Hospital.
The statement said that the dorm is open for health workers, medical practitioners, and other frontliners involved in offering essential services amid the COVID-19 crisis on a first come, first served basis. —/mbmf
As Sharif Uddin begins to dream about leaving the cramped Singapore dormitory where he has spent weeks under coronavirus quarantine, fears about his future are creeping in.
The 42-year-old Bangladeshi construction site supervisor is one of the thousands of low-income migrant workers trapped in packed bunk rooms that have been ravaged by the coronavirus, accounting for more than 90% of Singapore’s 38,000 infections.
As Singapore began easing its lockdown measures this month, migrants like Uddin started to think about returning to the outside world, bringing to the surface worries about jobs and debts as Singapore braces for its deepest-ever recession.
“The fear of losing jobs is worrying everyone at the moment,” said Uddin, who sends the bulk of his wages to his family in Bangladesh, like many of the South Asians working in manual jobs in Singapore.
For most migrant workers, at least part of their salaries is used to pay off the steep fees of the agent who helped procure the job.
Reuters has interviewed over a dozen migrant workers in Singapore in recent weeks. While many said they were still being paid, they were unsure if they will retain their jobs when the quarantine is lifted.
The Singapore government has given companies tax breaks to try and ensure migrants get paid while under quarantine and introduced measures to help laid off workers find new positions without having to first travel back to their home country, a core complaint of many labourers.
Lawrence Wong, the co-head of Singapore’s virus task force, told Reuters that the government had taken steps to help alleviate the concerns of workers around job security, but added that layoffs were possible given the grim economic outlook.
“There may be some contractors who might decide – well despite all the government measures, with the new arrangements, the new additional requirements in construction, it is very difficult and I might not want to continue in this industry – and then indeed they might release some of their workers,” said Wong, who is also the minister for national development.
He added that some workers may remain quarantined in their dormitories until August, or possibly beyond, as the government completes mass testing.
The pandemic has drawn attention to the stark inequalities in the modern city-state where more than 300,000 labourers from Bangladesh, India and China often live in rooms for 12 to 20 men, working jobs that pay as little as S$20 ($14.30) a day.
That is higher than they would make at home. But the median salary for Singaporeans in 2019 was S$4,563 per month, according to the manpower ministry.
The bigger worry for many migrants like Uddin is the debts they have racked up securing jobs in Singapore.
Migrants will usually be charged S$7,000-10,000 in fees by a recruitment agent in their home country, equivalent to more than a year of their basic salary, according to rights groups. If they lose their job, this debt could haunt their families for years.
“An indebted worker is a more compliant worker and that is what the employers like. That is one reason too that employers prefer to have new workers, than to retain old workers,” said Deborah Fordyce, president of Singapore NGO Transient Workers Count Too.
Wong, the minister, said the government will continue to work to improve migrants’ lives in Singapore, but tackling issues like fees is difficult because many agents operate in the workers’ home countries outside the city-state’s jurisdiction.
Singapore’s government has pledged to improve living conditions for migrant workers in the short-term and build new, higher-spec dormitories over the coming years. (Reuters)
(Production: Pedja Stanisic, Joseph Campbell, Edgar Su, Travis Teo)
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