By Raymund Antonio
If the government shuts down a recruitment agency for its illegal practices, it should take over the welfare cases of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Vice President Leni Robredo said.
“Iyong sa akin lang, kailangan siguro maging polisiya ng gobyerno na kung magsu- suspend siya o magsasara ng recruitment agency, siguraduhin na iyong mga inaalagaan nitong mga workers na dine-deploy, may sasalo,” she said.
(For me, the government must have a policy if it will suspend or close down a recruitment agency, it should ensure that it will take charge of the workers being deployed.)
“Kasi kung walang sasalo, paano sila imo-monitor? (Because if there is no one who will take over, how they will be monitored?),” the Vice President asked.
Robredo made the suggestion following the death of Joanna Demafilis, a Filipino domestic helper whose body was found in a freezer in Kuwait after missing for more than a year.
Authorities are hunting down the recruiters who sent the slain female worker to the Gulf state.
Demafilis was recruited by Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Global E-Human Resources Inc., but her family lost contact with her in 2016 after it closed down for various violations of recruitment rules.
The Vice President likewise proposed for the “regular monitoring” of OFWs to be carried out by Philippine consulates in the host country to check their conditions.
Robredo said she hoped the bilateral agreement that would be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte for the protection of Filipino workers in Kuwait includes such measure.
“Maraming mga puwedeng hingiin sa bilateral agreement. Isa na doon iyong puwede bang magkaroon ng regular na monitoring na pinipresenta ng employer iyong employee sa konsulado o embassy. (We can ask for many things in the bilateral agreement. One of them is if we could have regular monitoring wherein the employer presents the employee in the consulate or embassy.),” she said.
As part of this, Robredo said the Philippine embassy in Kuwait could also be given “visitation rights” on the OFWs.
The former housing chief underscored the importance of monitoring for Filipino workers who opt to keep their jobs and stay in the Arab country amid the deployment ban.
“Kasi kahit maraming nare-repatriate, mas maraming naiwan doon, so ano iyong sistema para ma-monitor at maiwasan iyong nangyari kay Joanna? (Although many OFWs were repatriated, more workers were left behind there so what’s the system to monitor and prevent like what happened to Joanna?), ” she said.