Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Monday underscored the need for the Philippine government to craft a comprehensive labor policy and tap countries that would protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from maltreatment and abuse.
Escudero’s statement comes 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.
“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, citing data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showing OFW cash remittances from January to November 2017 amounted to $25.3 billion.
Even Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto echoed this concern, saying the P40.6 billion OFWs in Kuwait sent home last year is enough to land the Philippines’ 37th biggest in terms of gross revenues, if they were a company.
“Hindi barya-barya ang ipinapadala nila sa atin (They’re not sending us small change). It helps keep our economy afloat. Pawis, luha at dugo ang puhunan nila (They invest sweat, tears, and blood). We are under obligation to reciprocate this sacrifice with prompt care,” Recto said.
Aside from this, Escudero said 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 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,” he said.
(It should not stop with a simple ban or repatriation, Kuwaiti nationals who abuse our countrymen must be held accountable and I want to hear the actions that the Kuwait government will do, if they have any, on this issue.)
Bilateral talks between the Philippines and Kuwait to seek justice for the victims’ families should also begin, according to him.
“Kaya nga hinihiling ko na magkaroon ng pag-uusap at settlement 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.
(That’s why I’m hoping for talks and settlement between our government and Kuwait on how this will be handled and how the suspects will be held accountable and how this will be prevented from happening again to those who will deployed if ever the President lifts the ban.) /je
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