Sunday, June 19, 2011

Congress to heed ILO resolution

Manila Bulletin
June 19, 2011, 5:37pm

MANILA, Philippines -- The chairman of the House Committee on Labor Sunday vowed to heed the International Labor Organization’s resolution seeking more benefits and better labor conditions for household helpers or kasambahay, saying that pending measures will be prioritized by the legislative body.

Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong, head of the Philippine delegation to the ILO convention in Geneva, Switzerland, said various legislative proposals that were filed before his committee will be immediately taken up as soon as Congress session resumes next months.

Among the bills filed are HB 4477 or the Kasambahay measured authored by Ong and House Bill 0003, a proposal granting scholarship and education benefits for deserving house helpers.

HB 0003 has been refilled by newly-inducted Ilocos Sur Rep. Ryan Luis Singson. Singson said the bill was originally filed by his elder brother, former Rep. Ronald Singson, whom he replaced following a special election held last month.

“The right to education should not be denied our kasambahay. Extreme poverty has denied many of them this right, we must help them regain it,” Singson said.

The new lawmaker lauded the labor committee for agreeing to prioritize pro-kasambahay measures even as he vowed to support other bills that would extend domestic helpers employed locally and abroad more benefits and better protection against abuses.

In batting for the approval of HB 4477, Ong cited a study conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) indicating that around 215 million children are employed around the world.

HB 4477 prohibits the hiring of minors under 18 years old as househelpers.

Ong said the so-called Kasambahay bill protects minors against many forms of abuses committed mostly by employers.

“They do not go to school and have little time or no time to play. Many do not receive proper nutrition care, practically denied the chance to be children,” he said.

In the Philippines, the number of domestic workers ranges from 600,000 to 2.5 million.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Domestic help protected in new ILO convention

Business World Philippines
June 16, 2011 11:00:23 PM

GENEVA -- The International Labor Organization yesterday passed a landmark treaty giving protection to an estimated 52.6 million domestic workers across the world.

The new convention would ensure domestic workers enjoyed conditions "not less favorable" than other workers, requiring governments to ensure they understood their rights, preferably through written contracts.

Domestic workers get a full rest day per week and should not remain with an employer’s household during their annual leave or rest days.

The convention, which was adopted with 396 votes for, 16 against and 63 abstentions, will come into effect upon the ratification of two countries.

The Philippines and Uruguay have asaid they would ratify the accord.

"This is a historic moment at the 100th session of the International Labour Conference, and we are making an important turning point," said a United Arab Emirates envoy, speaking on behalf of Gulf states, all of which supported the treaty.

ILO data, which is a compilation of national statistics, indicate that there were at least 52.6 million domestic workers worldwide in 2010. But there are reasons to believe that the true number could lie close to 100 million, the agency added.

Joining the convention is only the first step.

Countries would not have to implement the treaty until ratification, while others can also opt not to sign up, which could reduce its bite.

While it has secured the support of countries ranging from the United States, Indonesia and Brazil, others, such as Britain, abstained. -- AFP

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trafficking of Filipinos in Haiti worsens

The Manila Times
June 12, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Human traffickers are running circles on Philippine authorities, despite a crackdown on the illegal deployment of Filipinos for non-existent jobs in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, according to diplomatic sources.

The sources said at least 40 more overseas Filipino workers were reported to have arrived in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince since the embassy exposed the illegal deployment of 26 workers last year.

Many of these workers remain jobless or are able to find only part-time work, and at rates much lower than the $2,000 to $3,000 managerial posts promised them by the recruiters, leaders of the small but closely-knit Filipino community (FilCom) in Haiti said.

Ambassador Alfredo Maximo, charge d’affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Havana (Cuba), which has diplomatic jurisdiction over Filipinos in Haiti, said the recruiters are now deploying the OFWs by getting them tourist visas in nearby countries like the Bahamas. From there, they are given visas tourist visas, believed to be spurious, to get to Port-au-Prince.

“The recruiters have found a new way to deflect immigration scrutiny. They hide the true destination of the OFWs,” Maximo, who visited Port-au-Prince on May 15-22, said via email. “They bring them first to Nassau, Bahamas before sending them to Port-au-Prince, probably using fake stamped visas. Cuban immigration officials have found such fake visas in the past from OFWs who were coursed through Cuba by their recruiters.”

The ambassador said the recruiters falsify the Bahamian visa, including the signature of the Bahamian Consul in Havana, adding that embassy officials have already met with Bahamian diplomats in Havana to warn them about the current modus operandi used by recruiters to bring in hapless OFWs to Haiti via Nassau.

“Take note that the Haitian government does not require visas for Filipinos in the Caribbean who want to travel to Haiti as tourists. This loophole is currently being used by illegal recruiters to bring in undocumented workers to Haiti,” Maximo explained.

Maximo said they have already reported the suspected illegal recruiters to authorities in Haiti. However, the Haitian bureaucracy tends to be slow and it is saddled by the more urgent task of rebuilding from the devastating earthquake and its attendant challenges.

Maximo failed to identify the illegal recruiters, but other sources said some of the new arrivals were recruited by the group of Leo Maning, who has been reported by Philippine consular officials to Haitian authorities.

The same sources said another recruiter, a certain Armand Palisoc, is illegally deploying Filipino workers for non-existent jobs. Palisoc is said to be a U.S.-based operator who moved to Port-au-Prince, after the earthquake last year, to recruit OFWs to Haiti.

“Palisoc also figured prominently in the recruitment of the 50 OFWs who worked for one year at E-Power (the Haitian power company) last year,” said another source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“When said OFWs arrived in Haiti, they found out that they were receiving considerably less salaries than what was stipulated in their contract with their recruiter, a Korean company named DEECO, which has periodically surfaced in previous cases of illegal recruitment to Haiti, including that of Jesus “Jess” Laurenaria,” the source added.

Consular and community leaders, including Honorary Consul Fitzgerald Brandt, FilCom president Frankie Bagadiong and Filipino missionary priest Fr. Andrew Labatorio, are trying to reach out to the newly-arrived OFWs to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Charge d’affaires Maximo said “the main selling point [used by illegal recruiters] in bringing people to Haiti is the impression that Filipinos over there have managerial and supervisory positions.”

That impression, of course, is wrong.

“Nowadays, finding jobs in Haiti is becoming very difficult as many of the newly-arrived recruitment victims have found out,” Maximo said.

Maximo admitted that the embassy or the Philippine government can only do so much without a formal complaint of a case being filed by the victims.

He added that so far, he is only aware of one case filed against the alleged perpetrators, but the case is not moving because the complainant is still in Haiti trying to look for a job.

Maximo was referring to the lawsuit filed by Laurenaria through her sister, Lourdes Laurenaria, in Manila.

According to Maximo, the embassy recently repatriated two of the trafficking victims — Edward Acosta and Joselito Miranda, who requested that they be returned to the Philippines.

Maximo and FilCom leaders said they are hoping Acosta and Miranda would file charges against their recruiters, so they could be prosecuted and sent to prison.