Press Release / Labor And Employment

Closing remarks on the hearing on abuses and deaths of OFWs abroad


Sa inyo pong lahat, maraming, maraming salamat po for attending this hearing – I appreciate your inputs and comments. 
I think the issue confronting us all has become clearer because of the recent incidents in Kuwait, particularly the brutal death of Joanna Demafelis. It was really shocking and saddening beyond words. 
Sadly, it seems that our kababayans still have to make a choice between abuse and unemployment. If I remember rightly, there were 185 cases of deaths in Kuwait from 2016 to 2017. 
Marami pong nagbuwis ng buhay bago malagdaan itong MOU. At sa ngayon, marami pa rin ang sumusugal sa mga illegal recruiters, marami ang magtuturista para lang makalusot sa patakaran, may mga recruiters na pinapalipat-lipat ang mga workers sa iba’t ibang employers kaya lalo silang nagiging vulnerable sa pang-aabuso.
Sa mga nagdaan pong mga pangyayari at hanggang ngayon, klarong-klaro sa ating lahat: kailangang-kailangan ng tulong ng ating mga OFWs.
Clearly, there is a need to change the status quo and improve the condition of Filipino workers abroad.
That’s why our deliberations on these issues are important because it can help us to get to the root causes of the problem and find solutions to the problems our OFWs face. 
As you clearly pointed out, there are several needs that should be addressed:
We need an intensified training for household workers;
We need to give them skills to at least minimize cases of runaways;
We even need to check the veracity of NCs of our 262,000 NC II holders;
We need to look at the imposition of exorbitant fees for medical exam, visa stamping, among others;
We may need to put up performance bond for employers and require the training of foreign employers;
We need to revisit all existing bilateral agreements since many of these agreements are already outdated;
We need to monitor and confirm if Kuwait is deemed fully compliant as required by RA 10022;
We need to ensure that accountability when our workers are abused is shared among foreign recruitment agency, local recruitment agency and even foreign employers;
We need to ensure that our protocols – especially in rescuing OFWs in distress, are being followed;
We also need a database of undocumented or abused Filipino workers and perhaps, we can tap our centers or POLOs to gather information about undocumented workers;
We need information sharing among all agencies, we need to collaborate and convene the inter-agency group before data can be turned-over to the PSA;
Above all, it seems that we just need to implement our existing laws which have been in place for 23 years, specifically Section 20 of RA 8042 which requires the establishment of a shared government information system for migration.
Kahit po siguro 1.7% lamang ng kabuuang bilang ng mga OFWs ang nabibiktima ng pang-aabuso sa Kuwait, ibig sabihin mayroon pa rin tayong dahilan para maipatupad ang mga solusyong ito.
Now that the MOU has been signed and the joint committee will meet after Ramadan, we hope that change will happen and things will get better.
Kahapon, laman ng balita na dalawang Pinoy construction workers sa Jedah ang
hinihilang namatay sa sunog sa kanilang tirahan sa Saudi. Kasabay nito, mayroon ding 108 OFWs sa Saudi na apat na buwang allegedly hindi pinasahod ng kumpanya nila at nagdesisyon ng bumalik sa Pilipinas.
Maraming pong problema noon, marami pa rin tayong mga challenges na hinaharap ngayon. Kailangan po nating ugatin ang mga problema, kailangan po nating ng solusyon, kailangan nating matiyak na magiging maayos ang buhay ng mga OFWs na wala namang ibang gusto kundi ang mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang kanilang pamilya at mga mahal sa buhay na naiwan nila dito sa Pilipinas.
Sa inyo pong lahat na dumalo sa pagdinig na ito, maraming salamat po sa inyo.