Villanueva calls for review of deployment protocols to curb OFW abuses

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 9, 2021   •   328

MANILA, Philippines — In order to curb cases of abused Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Senator Joel Villanueva has proposed the review of protocols on the deployment of workers.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, urged the government to continue to engage host countries through bilateral agreements to ensure accountability on the welfare of OFWs. This is for host countries to be accountable for the welfare of OFWs.

“Our Minority Leader made a very clear point: ‘A source of law is culture and no form of bilateral agreement and Philippine domestic law can address that culture, like the Kafala,'” he said on Monday (March 8).

Under the kafala system, a practice observed in Gulf states, the immigration status of migrant workers is legally bound to an employer who acts as the sponsor. This requires workers to obtain consent from employers to enter and exit the country, and even transferring jobs.

The International Labor Organization described the system as the state’s “delegation of responsibility … to the private employer to oversee both a migrant worker’s immigration and employment status.”

Based on the data of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, it showed that 4,302 cases of maltreatment and mistreatment were recorded in the Middle East in 2020, while contract violations surged to 21,127 cases in the same region.

The Senator also emphasized the need to protect women, especially when most countries they are being deployed to are “patriarchal in nature”. Villanueva cited government data that showed at least 56 percent, or 1.2 million, of Filipinos eking out a living in foreign countries are women.

“It is important that though OFW issues should be genderless, a large part of the bill must place protections for our OFWs particularly our women because most countries they are deployed to are patriarchal by nature, and by culture,” he said. -AAC

BI rescues underage OFWs from trafficking syndicate

Marje Pelayo   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has warned the public against syndicates who are engaged in trafficking minors and underage females to work abroad.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the warning after officers at the international airports in Pampanga and Manila intercepted two overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that presented falsified travel documents to appear older and be able to work abroad.

The passengers, who both hail from the Southern part of the country, were recruited to work as household helpers in Saudi Arabia.

Both were stopped from leaving by members of the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU).

Alias “Ria” was intercepted at the Clark International Airport (CIA) last Thursday while alias “Lea” was rescued at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Friday.

According to Morente, the victims are suspected to have falsified their birthdates to make it appear they meet the age requirements for domestic helpers eligible to work in Saudi Arabia apart from inconsistencies in the answers during interrogation particularly their age.

Both victims were later turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance in filing of complaints against their recruiters.

Over 500K OFWs repatriated amid COVID-19 pandemic – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than half a million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been repatriated by the government, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

Citing a report from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Hans Leo Cacdac, DOLE said 502,581 Filipino repatriates have been safely transported back to their home provinces after undergoing COVID-19 tests and quarantine protocols in various hotels.

The latest batch of repatriates consisted of 1,471 OFWs who were sent home on Saturday, DOLE said.

Meanwhile, a separate report from DOLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) showed there are 645,071 OFWs affected by the pandemic.

Of this number, 627,576 were displaced by the public health crisis. Around 49,698 of them requested repatriation while 75,297 opted to stay on site.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured that the government continues to provide assistance to displaced and affected Filipino workers.

So far, DOLE’s Abot Kamay sa Pagtulong (AKAP) assistance program has extended P5.043 billion to 497,122 OFWs.

 

AKAP is one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for each qualified affected/displaced OFW.

Aside from AKAP, DOLE also provides financial aid, food and medical aid to COVID infected OFWs.

To date, it has extended a total of $1.93 million in cash assistance to 9,667 OFW COVID patients. Another $2.6 million in medical and food aid has been extended to 124,945 OFWs, DOLE said.

Villanueva hails ratification of Labor Education Bill as ‘golden opportunity’ for harmony in the workplace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva has hailed the Senate ratification of the Labor Education Bill, saying it is a “golden opportunity” for harmony in the workplace.

Under the said bill, labor education will be included in the curriculum of colleges, universities, and in technical and vocational schools.

The Senate on Monday (March 15) ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the bill.

In a statement, Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee and head of the Senate contingent in the bicameral panel, said education is a good setting to instigate change in the workplace.

“We give our nation a golden opportunity: to attain a situation where labor rights are highly respected, where workplace harmony is the rule and not the exemption, and where our workers can lead a fulfilled life. We made the right decision of where this change must begin – in our schools, right inside our classrooms,” he said.

He also added that the bicameral conference committee adopted the Senate version which also empowers the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to develop the program.

“We are one step closer to an empowered workforce, one where both employer and employee are informed of their respective rights and obligations under the law,” Villanueva said. AAC

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