A pro-OFW group on Tuesday urged the government to create programs to promote the ethical recruitment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to uphold the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Philippines and Kuwait.
“This is the chance for both countries to start fresh, and blaze the trail towards a rights-based approach to the recruitment and employment of Filipino migrant workers,” Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said in a statement.
The statement came after the Philippines partially lifted the deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait, allowing skilled and semi-skilled workers to work in the Gulf state after the signing of the MOU.
Ople lauded the decision and said domestic workers, as noted by officials of the executive and labor sections, were vulnerable and prone to abuse especially when taken advantage of by unethical recruiters.
She said ethical recruiters must properly train and orient domestic workers to “avoid instances where the workers deployed cannot even read or write, much less operate a washing machine.”
Recruitment agencies, Ople added, are also mandated by law to refrain from imposing hidden charges on their deployed workers and to monitor their work conditions.
She also urged the government to crack down on licensed recruitment agencies caught deploying minors with tampered passports as domestic workers abroad.
“Even with a bilateral labor agreement in place, no one can guarantee the safety and welfare of our workers unless local recruitment agencies as well as their foreign counterparts are able to level up their commitment to ethical recruitment,” Ople said.
Aside from a crackdown on agencies with unethical practices, she said a thorough review of the performance of licensed recruitment agencies and audit of government agencies involved in overseas employment is called for.
Ople also suggested the creation of a joint inter-agency task force to monitor workers’ conditions in the Middle East, and for the pre-departure orientation seminar required of OFWs to be replaced with a special orientation program.
“While we expect Kuwait to live up to its commitments, we also must walk the talk and show that we are capable of instituting reforms within our own backyard,” she said. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News