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Legislator asks Migrant Workers dep’t to screen OFW employers

PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

THE Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) needs to screen foreign employers before deploying overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), to minimize the possibility of these OFWs being abused at their workplaces, Senator Rafael T. Tulfo said on Wednesday.

“What I really need to see is a screening process not only for OFWs but also for employers,” the senator, who chairs the Senate Migrant Workers Committee, said in a hearing.

“We keep sending our OFWs (overseas) until they, unfortunately, come back dead, and I don’t want that to happen,” he added.

Secretary Susan V. Ople, who heads the DMW, said the system has been geared towards maximizing deployments, with limited capacity for tracking workers past departure.

“I have noticed that… long as there are job orders, we just keep approving, which is why sometimes the recruitment agencies, despite only having a few staff, have hundreds and hundreds of job orders; when OFWs have a problem, they no longer know where to search because the employer has already changed,” she said.

Ms. Ople also noted that some Philippine diplomatic personnel have been reported for sexually harassing OFWs in shelters overseas.

“I hope we can give teeth to our laws in such cases. It is hard to accept that these things happen,” Senator Robinhood Ferdinand C. Padilla, said. “An ambassador is the father of Filipinos in the host country, yet he commits such offenses, right in the OFW shelter?”

Ms. Ople said the former ambassador has not been criminally charged over the incident and eventually retired from service. She had helped pursue the complaint against the ambassador when she was still with a non-government organization, adding that the Department of Foreign Affairs told her last month that the former ambassador will be fined.

She recommended legislation penalizing sexual harassment by diplomats and other overseas personnel. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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