Nearly 5,000 cases of abused OFWs recorded in 2020
MANILA, Philippines — Nearly 5,000 cases of maltreatment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were recorded in 2020, data presented during a Senate Labor Committee hearing on Monday showed.
Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the committee, presented figures from Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs), which showed that in the Middle East alone, 4,302 cases of abuse were recorded last year.
In Asia, there were 593 maltreatment cases while 86 incidents were reported in Europe and the Americas.
The POLO data also included the number of contract violations committed against OFWs, which totaled to 23,714, majority of which were reported in Middle Eastern countries.
Villanueva cited “exacerbating elements” which he said contribute to the abuse of Filipino migrant workers.
“Yung passport confiscation, hanggang ngayon sa Lebanon, buhay na buhay po ‘yan. The employer has the right to confiscate the passport or identification card of their migrant worker,” he said.
He also lamented the exclusion of domestic workers from labor code or labor protection laws in six out of eight countries in the Middle East.
“These are all in existence…I think kung ang pupuntahan ng ating mga kababayan ay may patakaran na kagaya nito, then it’s somehow impossible for us to protect our kababayans,” the senator stressed.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola told the committee, which is tackling bills to create a new department for overseas Filipinos, that countries in the Middle East are doing its part to reform its labor laws.
Still, Arriola said it is still difficult to “control the abuses” against OFWs.
“We should really endeavor to limit our deployment up to a certain date to only skilled workers, otherwise, no matter what we do, we would always have abuses,” she said.
“The only time that the state can intervene is if the abuse has already happened, because we cannot enter the homes of the employers because these are households,” she pointed out.