Department of Migrant Workers mandated to prioritize OFW protection

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2022 11:26 AM | Updated as of Aug 12 2022 11:53 AM

Overseas Filipino Workers queue at the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 as they process their travel documents for their overseas trip on May 31, 2021. The Department of Labor and Employment lifted its travel suspension on Filipino workers bound to Saudi Arabia after the Saudi government instructed employers to shoulder quarantine and testing costs upon arrival in KSA. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Overseas Filipino Workers queue at the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 as they process their travel documents for their overseas trip on May 31, 2021. The Department of Labor and Employment lifted its travel suspension on Filipino workers bound to Saudi Arabia after the Saudi government instructed employers to shoulder quarantine and testing costs upon arrival in KSA. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA —Protecting Filipino domestic workers is the top mandate of the newly-created Department of Migrant Workers, an official said Friday, amid rising cases of abuse overseas.

According to Undersecretary for Welfare and Foreign Employment Hans Leo Cacdac, domestic workers are the most vulnerable to employment-related abuse and exploitation.

"They are the most vulnerable skill set. Most distressed cases would be OFW (overseas Filipino worker) kasambahay who encounter work problems or work contract violations or abuses abroad," he told ANC's Headstart.

"So, yes, domestic workers will get the utmost protection."

While there are existing policies that seek to ensure the protection of domestic workers, Cacdac said the agency would seek to strengthen bilateral cooperation with other countries.

The DMW will be prioritizing the Middle East, which comprised 70 percent of OFWs, he said. It will be followed by migrant workers in Asia.

"The very strong directive from [Migrant Workers] Secretary Toots [Ople] is that the DMW shall be the home and sanctuary of OFWs," Cacdac said.

Cacdac is tasked to handle the DMW Aksyon Fund, which is allocated for programs aimed at providing assistance to distressed OFWs. He was previously the administrator of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

The newly established agency will also launch a crackdown against illegal recruiters, he said.

"Secretary Toots is a well-known advocate of anti-human trafficking and anti-illegal recruitment and that's definitely on the table in terms of the measures that we will undertake here," Cacdac said.

There are an estimated 1.77 million OFWs from April to September 2020, latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed. Of the figure, 59.6 percent are women while 40.4 percent are men.

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