MOSCOW, Russia – The Philippines and Russia are now in talks about labor relations as there is no existing agreement yet between the two countries particularly regarding the welfare of Filipino domestic helpers.
The government sent House Speaker Gloria Arroyo to Russia last week to talk to Russian labor officials on the matter.
“Dapat maawa naman ang mga official sa mga nangyayari, so kinuwento ko naman doon sa forum na sampung libo sila pero halos dalawang daan lang ang quota,” the House Speaker explained.
(Officials should at least show compassion and so I told them the situation. There are about 10,000 [OFWs] but the quota is only 200.)
“Halos sila ay nagpupunta dito na ang visa nila ay hindi tunay. Hindi totoo o kaya kunwari estudyante o kaya kunwari negosyante kaya naman parating natatakot na baka isang araw mahuli, mapaalis,” he added.
(Almost all of them entered the country without a proper visa. They only have a student or business visa, causing them to live in constant fear of being arrested and deported.)
Arroyo said the Philippine government is pushing for an agreement that would assure protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the European nation.
For ten years now, “Yeye” has been working as a foreign domestic worker in Russia.
Even after a decade of working, her status remains uncertain as she is working in Russia undocumented.
“Sa ngayon napaka hirap talaga sa dami na ng pinagdaanan ko dito lalo na sa ibat-ibang Agency na pinapasukan ng aming mga visa talagang napaka hirap na lagi kaming may kabog sa dibdib,” she said.
(Honestly, we’re in a very difficult situation. After all the hardships that I went through, my experiences with various agencies where we lodge our visas, the fear is always there.)
While the labor agreement in on the negotiating table, Ambassador Carlos Sorreta constantly calls on Filipino workers in Russia to refrain from inviting their relatives and friends to come and work in Russia.
“Ang pinakahiling lang namin (ay) itigil ang pagre-recruit muna lalo na ang mga kaibigan ninyo, kamag anak, mga kababayan. Ang nangyayari (kasi) nababayaran pagdating dito nagkakaaway-away,” the Philippine envoy to Russia said.
(We appeal [to our kababayans] to refrain from recruiting your friends, your relatives because what happens, is after the payment is settled, the conflict would arise when they arrive here in Russia.)
“Hindi namin makukuha ang labor agreement kung dumadami ng dumadami ang ilegal kasi pumasok ang issue ng amnesty so mas nagiging komplikado,” he added.
(We will not succeed in getting a labor agreement if the number of illegal entries will increase given that there is already an amnesty program. Things would surely become more complicated.) – with reports from Catherine Martinez / UNTV News Russia
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law establishing the Office for Social Welfare Attaché to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFW), especially those who have fallen prey to illegal recruiters.
Duterte signed the Republic Act 11299 on April 17, a copy of which was made public on Monday (July 15).
The newly-signed law amended the Republic Act 8402 or the Migrant Workers Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 to include the said office.
It mandates the Office for Social Welfare Attaché (SWA) to deploy personnel to countries with large concentration of Filipino workers, as determined in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Under the measure, a social welfare attaché’s duty includes management of cases of Filipino workers in distress, such as victims of trafficking or illegal recruitment, rape or sexual abuse, maltreatment and other forms of physical or mental abuse, and case of abandoned or neglected children;
SWAs are also mandated to undertake survey and prepare social welfare situationer on the OFWs in their areas of assignment; establish a network with overseas-based social welfare agencies or individuals which may be mobilized to assist in the provision of appropriate services.
They should also respond to and monitor the resolution of problems and complaints or queries of Filipino workers and their families; establish and maintain a data bank and documentation of OFWs and their families to provide effective social welfare services; submit regular reports on plans and activities undertaken, recommendations and updates on the situation of OFWs.
The law states that the budget for the Department of Social Welfare and Development while the DFA, DOLE, the Department of Health and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration are tasked to craft the measure’s implementing rules and regulations within 60 days after the effectivity of this act.
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants the establishment of a separate Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) by December this year to address the persistent woes with illegal recruiters and other concerns.
Duterte said the proposed department’s power will include strict regulation of Philippine-based recruitment agencies.
“Kaya apurahin ko ‘yang Department of OFW. Bawal na ang recruitment sa abroad — sa labas. Kung gusto nila, diyan sila maglagay ng mesa. So, under the supervision of government at walang horrendous charges. Hindi ako papayag ng ganun ‘pag natayo ‘yan,” the president said in a speech during the Araw ng Pasasalamat for OFWs ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo last Friday (July 12).
Duterte said he wants the framework for this proposal be completed by the second week of August.
He also warned illegal and abusive recruiters to shape up as they will no longer operate without direct government supervision once the proposed department is created.
“Kaya kayong mga recruitment, bilang talaga ang araw ninyo… ‘Pag hindi ko kayo nadala sa usapan na maganda, brasohan tayo. ‘Pag nag-brasohan tayo, kayo ang matatalo. Sigurado ‘yan,” he said.
In line with this, former special assistant to the president and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go filed the Senate Bill 202 or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019.
Go’s proposal seeks the creation of the said department to serve as the umbrella agency to address all concerns of Filipinos working overseas.
The measure will also create an Overseas Filipinos Assistance Fund to provide financial aid to Filipino migrants in distress and provide livelihood loans for OFWs returning to the Philippines for good.
Once approved into law, the department will absorb the functions of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, the International Labor Affairs Bureau and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
Currently, Filipinos wanting to work abroad need to go to different departments to secure necessary documents and present other concerns such as employment and technical education.
The neophyte lawmaker believes the president will certify the measure as urgent to swiftly hurdle the Congress before the year ends.
“I think it’s possible and doable naman po by December. Maybe the president will certify it as urgent. At ang gusto na mangyari ng presidente [ay] maiwasan ang illegal recruitment or maging biktima ng illegal recruitment,” he said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)
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