Senator Chiz Escudero underscored the need for the Philippine government to craft a comprehensive labor policy and tap countries that will protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from maltreatment and abuse once they are employed.
This was after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a total ban on the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait following the death of a Filipina domestic worker, whose body was found in a freezer in the Gulf state.
Last month, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) already suspended the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait following the deaths of seven Filipino workers, mostly household service workers, in the oil-rich state.
According to Escudero, a comprehensive labor migration policy for OFWs should be put in place to prevent maltreatment and abuse, especially among Filipino domestic workers who are most vulnerable to maltreatment, sexual abuse and exploitation.
The government should also address the common complaints of OFWs such as labor malpractice, non-payment of overtime, poor accommodation, discrepancies, in wages and repatriation in cases of crisis, and other health and safety issues, Escudero said.
“OFW cash remittances boost our economy and I think the best way to repay them is to ensure that they would be safe and properly compensated in the countries where they would be deployed,” Escudero said.
According to data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, OFW cash remittances from January to November 2017 amounted to $25.3 billion.
Escudero also added that apart from the country’s total OFW deployment ban to Kuwait, the Philippine government should go after abusive employers and hold them accountable.
“Hindi dapat tumigil sa simpleng ban lamang o pagpapauwi, dapat panagutin din ang mga Kuwaiti nationals na gumagawa nyan sa ating mga kababayan at nais kong marinig ang gagawing aksyon ng Kuwaiti government, kung meron man, sa bagay na iyon,” Escudero said.
Escudero also said there should be bilateral talks between the Philippines and Kuwait to seek justice for the victims’ families.
“Kaya nga hinihiling ko na magkaroon ng pag-uusap atsettlement ang gobyerno natin at ang Kuwaiti government kung paano ito iha-handle at paano mapapanagot yung mga gumawa niyan at paano maiiwasang mangyari ito muli sa sinumang made-deploy muli kung bubuksan ito muli ng Pangulo,” Escudero said.
According to the Foreign Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola, out of the 260,000 OFWs deployed to Kuwait, 170,000 of them are domestic workers.