PH fast-tracks new rules for new kasambahays in Saudi Arabia

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2021 01:52 PM

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Philippine authorities are fast-tracking the creation of new rules that would allow the deployment of new household service workers to Saudi Arabia. 

The deployment suspension announced this week was prompted by a blacklisted employer who used fake addresses and names to hire domestic workers, circumventing the guidelines for the verification of labor contracts, said Philippine Overseas Employment Administration head Bernard Olalia. 

The employer, a retired general, allegedly molested, abused, and failed to pay 8 Filipino workers, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello told TeleRadyo. 

"Isa ‘yan (Saudi Arabia) sa pinakamalaking traditional market natin at libo-libo po ang maaapektuhan kaya ang gagawin po natin sa lalong madaling panahon ay balangkasin natin iyong pagpapagawa ng bagong verification guidelines," Olalia said in a televised public briefing. 

"Ang intensyon po kasi nito ay… upang maiwasan iyong instance o pangyayari na naabuso ang ating OFWs," he added. 

(That is one of our biggest traditional markets, so thousands will be affected. Will will draft the new verification guidelines as soon as possible. The intention of this is to prevent instances where our OFWs are abused.) 

Saudi Arabia was the most preferred destination of OFWs, hosting about 1 in 5 of 2.2 million Filipino migrant workers in 2019, government data showed. 

The Saudi Arabia deployment pause does not cover domestic workers with existing contracts, Bello earlier said. 

He noted the Philippines is still pushing Saudi Arabian employers to settle unpaid salaries and end-of-services pay of some 9,000 Filipino workers.

The labor department in late May stopped worker deployment ban to Saudi Arabia over reports that OFWs were required by their employers or foreign recruitment agencies to shoulder the cost of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

It lifted the ban days later after the Saudi government mandated foreign employers to shoulder these expenses.