MANILA, Philippines - The Senate will investigate the case of a domestic worker whose face was burned and eyesight lost because of physical abuse by her employer.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile made the decision during Tuesday's session after a privilege speech of Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, who called for the passage of a proposed law protecting domestic workers.
"Alamin natin kung ano ang puno't dulo ng pangyayaring ito," Enrile said. "Ano ang ginagawa ng Commision on Human Rights tungkol sa ganitong bagay? Ito ba ay pinapansin nila? Ano ang responsibilidad ng Department of Social Welfare dito? Ano ang responsibilidad ng Department of Labor? Anong ahensya ng gobyerno ang dapat puntahan ng kagaya nitong biktimang narito kung siya ay ginawan ng karahasan?"
Estrada delivered his speech in the presence of 21-year-old Bonita Baran of Baras, Catanduanes, who became a house helper when she was 16.
The senator spoke about the abuses that Baran suffered beginning 2008 under her female employer.
Baran has bruises all over her body allegedly due to repeated beating and hitting using. She was reportedly hit with a figurine and a vase on her head.
Her forehead was burned after her employer pressed a hot iron against it.
Baran also lost her right eyesight while her left eye is partially blind allegedly because her employer punched her eyes. She has undergone eye operation at the Philippine General Hospital.
"Ngayon lamang po ako nakatagpo ng isang tao na gaya ni Bonita na trinato nang mas masahol pa sa hayop," said Estrada, chair of the Senate's committee on labor.
Estrada, who sponsored a measure seeking protection for domestic workers, urged his fellow lawmakers at the House of Representatives to pass the bill. The Senate has passed it on final reading, but it is still pending at the House.
"Ilang Bonita pa ba ang dapat makaranas ng ganitong mapait na karanasan bago magkaroon ng sapat na batas na kakalinga sa kanilang karapatan at pangangailangan?" he said.
Senate foreign relations committee chair Loren Legarda, meanwhile, urged her fellow senators to approve a convention of the International Labor Organization protecting domestic workers' rights. The Senate passed it on second reading on Thursday, bringing it a step closer to ratification.