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CHR: Deploy OFWs only to countries that will protect their rights

Following the gruesome murder of domestic helper Joanna Demafelis, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has urged the government to deploy overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) only to countries that have guaranteed to protect their rights as provided under the amended Migrant Workers’ Act.

“Joanna’s tragic death on the hands of her cruel employers underscore the need to ensure that every aggrieved OFW has access to justice in the country where he or she works,” Human Rights Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana said in a statement on Sunday.

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The remains of Demafelis, who died of severe beating, were found last week in a freezer in Kuwait after she went missing in 2016.

Gana pointed out that under the Migrant Workers’ Act, the Philippine government should look for “guarantees” from the labor-receiving country, such as existing labor and social laws protecting the rights of workers, including migrant workers.

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“The law is very clear. For it to be properly implemented, we need stronger and sustainable partnerships between and among government and the private sector, as well as civil society and OFW groups, to ensure that migrant workers’ rights are being monitored,” Gana said.

Last month, the CHR expressed approval of the Department of Labor and Employment’s move to suspend deployment of domestic workers to Kuwait, as it looked into the circumstances of seven reported OFW deaths in the Gulf state.

Gana expressed hopes the move would prompt Kuwaiti employers and recruitment agencies “to reflect and adopt the necessary reforms to strengthen and uphold the rights of migrant workers, especially those working as domestic workers.”

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez has called on the administration to resolve the issue on abuses suffered by OFWs with caution and diplomacy so as not to jeopardize the economic security of millions of Filipino workers abroad.

“It is the government’s duty to protect our countrymen working abroad. But both sides should practice restraint,” Suarez said on Saturday.

Suarez admits that there are really “bad eggs” among thousands of employers abroad.

“But that should not set a precedent to stop the relationship between Kuwait and the Philippines,” Suarez said.

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Suarez said he will invite officials from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to appear during their next hearing in Congress.

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TAGS: abused OFWS, CHR, Commission on Human Rights, Joanna Demafelis, Migrant Workers Act
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