Hiring ‘illiterates’ for overseas work up to recruitment sector, says DOLE exec

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MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Labor and Employment doesn’t see the need for the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to impose a new guideline that would prevent illiterate workers from applying as household service workers (HSWs) in Saudi Arabia.

“We do not need to do that. The recruitment sector themselves can do that by setting up their own screening mechanisms,” said Danilo Cruz, DOLE Undersecretary for Employment and Manpower Development.

He added that the recruitment sector can even choose to go beyond the “no read, no write, no employment” policy being imposed by the Saudi government if they want to.

“As long as they do not trample upon basic human rights, they, the recruitment agencies, can do that themselves and hire who they think can best qualify for the jobs,” explained Cruz.

The Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc. earlier urged the POEA to stop allowing the deployment of HSWs who cannot read and write at the rich-oil kingdom.

The group said this is to align the recruitment rules and regulations of the country to that of the Saudi government.

Item 13 of the “Guidelines on Procedural Requirements for All Kinds of Visas to Be Followed by Saudi Embassy-Accredited Recruitment Agencies” issued last August 31 states that: “The prevailing rules and regulations in the Kingdom do not allow anyone who cannot read and write to enter the Kingdom to Work”.

PASEI is the biggest single land-based association of legitimate Overseas Employment Service Providers composed of over 650 private recruitment agencies that are all licensed by the DOLE and authorized by the POEA to recruit and to deploy Filipino workers abroad.

PASEI’s proposal, however, was met with objections by migrants’ rights organization Migrante-Middle East, describing the proposal as an absurd, futile band-aid solution.

“PASEI proposal is not only illogical but would [leave] no option at all to what it called ‘illiterates’ amid the economic hardship hitting hard the poor ‘illiterates’ in the Philippines,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

He added that the poor ‘illiterates’ need training and support programs instead of being excluded.

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