POEA Chief to Recruiters: 10 Ways to Stop Abuse of Filipino Domestic Workers Abroad

By: Hans Cacdac, POEA Administrator
July 14, 2015 7:28 AM

2015-0716 POEA Chief to Recruiters 10 Ways to Stop Abuse of Filipino Domestic Workers Abroad

POEA chief Hans Cacdac. FROM FACEBOOK

POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac is under fire from some recruiters over what they called his abusive enforcement of the law when he padlocked recruitment agencies for slight infractions and requiring them to among other things, open a Facebook page for easier communication with those they send for work abroad. Here, he lists 10 ways to help stop abuse of Filipino domestic workers abroad – among the most vulnerable OFWs.

1. Diligence regarding foreign partners.

Exercise a high degree of diligent care and a painstaking effort to scrutinize the ethical standing, professionalism, systems and processes, welfare programs and facilities, as well as human and technical resources of foreign counterparts, in terms of providing a high standard of protection to domestic workers. Get a CLEAR picture or idea of who runs foreign offices, where they are located, the quality of welfare programs and facilities, and other relevant information.

2. Document ethical systems and processes.

All ethical systems and processes of each recruitment agency should be outlined and documented. Identify best practices and plug gaps or deficiencies. Wala no ho tayo sa panahon ng “bahala na” o kahit anong diskarte na lang sa recruitment and deployment ng overseas workers. Proper documentation of systems and procedures ensures continuous improvement of best practices, and correction of bad ones.

For starters, all recruitment agencies should follow PH labor laws on working conditions and occupational health and safety with respect to their own personnel. In a recent public statement, no less than Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz expressed concern over the fact that only 50 to 60 percent of DOLE-inspected recruitment agencies complied with labor standards and health and safety laws.

Also, there should be compliance with basic legal requirements, such as registration of authorized personnel and offices/facilities at the POEA. At the recent operations we conducted at Gedisco Centre, one of the recruitment agencies that were found to have been utilizing a room in their office for other purposes had suggested this was a minor infraction. Perhaps this agency had not realized that this “minor infraction” or rule could be directly related to unauthorized participation of foreigners in recruitment of OFWs.

3. Go beyond informing recruits about the realities of working abroad.

Close (seal, shut) information gaps with respect to realities of domestic work abroad, especially in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. “Closing, sealing, or shutting information gaps” includes providing timely information on workers’ rights and responsibilities, cultural differences between PH and host country societies, PH and host country laws and policies, contents of employment contracts including job descriptions, access to assistance and justice, and case studies of distressed domestic workers. Dissemination of this easily comprehensible information covers ALL stages of the recruitment and deployment process:

– announcing job hiring through print, media, or social media advertisements;
– job interviews;
– visits of applicants to recruitment offices, where visible signs, posters, or information materials may be viewed;
– point of hiring;
– transit accommodation briefings or meetings;
– pre-departure briefings;
– post-arrival orientation; and
– reminders during on-site monitoring stages

This means that modules embodying all relevant and important pieces of information, which indicate contents, manner, and time frame of information-sharing or briefing, should be crafted and documented. ANG DETALYENG MAHALAGA PARA SA KAALAMAN NG WORKER AY HINDI LAMANG SINASABI SA PUNTO NG PRE-DEPARTURE BRIEFING, O DI KAYA KAPAG NASA ABROAD NA SIYA.

All efforts to convey such important information must be properly documented. Hindi yung sabi-sabi lang na briefings were conducted here and there, and that guidance was given to this applicant and that applicant, etc.

4. The law is clear: A domestic worker should not be less than 23 years old.

According to the most recent amendment to the law — the latest expression of the legislative will — automatic revocation of license is the penalty for deploying an underage OFW, with corresponding criminal liability. The law does not speak of “knowledge” of underage status by the recruiter as an element of the offense.

Therefore, one must be VERY CAREFUL when determining the age of the applicant. Important pieces of corroborating evidence such as a NSO birth certificate, school records, voter’s IDs, government IDs, AND affidavits of immediate family should at least be produced or on hand.

And let’s be honest, we all know falsification of birth dates in birth certificates (especially late registration birth certificates) abound in areas where there are many domestic worker applicants. So one cannot simply hide behind the stated birth date in a passport, in the face of an underage recruitment situation.

5. Make sure hired workers are not just physically prepared, but mentally prepared as well.

Cases of on-site depression are not attributable to the worker alone. On the contrary, such cases illustrate fundamental flaws in disclosure of information, screening, proper handling, and monitoring of workers during the recruitment and deployment stages.

6. Make sure workers have certified skills.

Training should not be ad hoc. Neither should it be done informally, or as some measure of “corporate social responsibility” or “awa” to the applicants. Training should be done through an accredited TESDA institution. And, just as important, assessment for certification purposes should be done by an INDEPENDENT ASSESSOR, and not by one who has influential ties to the recruitment agency or training institution and vice versa.

Recruiters should also be the first to identify unethical, lackluster, or fly-by-night training institutions, and report them to the DOLE, TESDA, or POEA immediately.

7. Job interviews should have relevant and important questions.

There should a basic set of questions that are standardized and transparent.

8. Provide decent and free PH accommodation in transit.

I have received reports of on-site salary deductions to pay for PH accommodation costs. Why?

Also, there are reports of applicants being made to work without pay at households of recruitment agencies or some other employers.

Also, there are reports that they stay at the accommodation for two to three months at a time.

9. Days or weeks prior to departure, the worker must have a copy of both the employment contract and POEA overseas employment certificate (OEC), so that, among others, a comparison could be made with regard to the job/position stated in the contract and OEC.

10. The biggest issue of them all: on-site monitoring.

The case of deceased HSW Helen Riobuya Sarocam brings the matter of monitoring the well-being of OFWs to the fore.

Helen was deployed to Kuwait last December 2014. She was returned by her first employer to her FRA, due to a misunderstanding with her lady employer. Thereafter, she was returned to her second employer on 20 May 2015, this time on account of homesickness. In an affidavit before the PHL Embassy on 21 May 2015, she said she was homesick and missed her children Charline, Charlon John, and Cybil Ken.

On 22 May 2015, she jumped out of the 5th floor of her FRA’s accommodation. She died on the spot, just two days before her scheduled date of repatriation.

Her family claimed that she worked for four employers, and not just two employers.

But where was monitoring Helen’s plight, from the day she arrived in Kuwait to the day she jumped out of the 5th floor of her FRA’s facility? Could she have been saved at any point in time? Recall that her colleagues at the FRA facility noted that she was very quiet and hardly ate. Who else should have known then what Helen was going through at the time?

I have another story. Adelyn Sumin-ao was a schoolteacher from Bukidnon, age 23 when she applied for work as a domestic worker to Kuwait. She had a two year-old son, Christian Jay, at the time.

Adelyn was deployed last January 2011. Based on recruitment agency records, she had a disagreement with her employer about wages in September 2011. According to the agency, the matter was resolved. The next piece of information, based on recruitment agency records, was the most damning of all – her murder at the hands of the same Kuwait employers (husband and wife) on New Year’s Eve 2012.

How could monitoring of her situation/relationship with her employers have saved Adelyn?

In this day and age, there are many means for a PH recruitment agency to monitor the well-being of a worker:

– communications with the FRA or employer;
– coordination with the families left behind;
– text messaging, snail mail, or email with the workers; and
– Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.

Note that all these are over and above government efforts on the ground.

Please do not reject social media simply because of the many negative, hurtful, or erroneous accusations hurled not just at recruiters, but at the government as well. LET US USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO OUR ADVANTAGE, IN THE NAME OF PROTECTING OUR OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS.

Lastly, all of the above measures are not meant to make life difficult for anyone. Wala hong personalan ito kundi trabaho lamang at, pinakamahalaga, nang dahil sa legal at moral nating obligasyon na magmalasakit at magbigay ng proteksiyon sa ating vulnerable domestic workers.

Huwag ho nating daanin sa galit o resistance ang reaksiyon. Dapat positibo at WALANG PAGOD NA PAGTAHAK NG LANDAS TUNGO SA DISENTE AT MAKATAONG PAGBABAGO ANG TUGON.

(Source: InterAksyon.com)

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker