By Charissa Atienza
Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. is seeking the creation of the Office of the Philippine Overseas Labor Arbiter to protect and promote labor rights of Filipinos working abroad.
He proposed that new office be created under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to safeguard the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“Without an office abroad where they can lodge or file their complaints and grievances against foreign employers, many OFWs are helpless as they suffer forms of slavery as well as physical, psychological and economic abuse. This is because any cause of action that an OFW has over his or her employer can only be heard before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) which has no office abroad,” Bordado said.
Bordado filed House Bill 7181 seeking the creation of the Office of the Philippine Overseas Labor Arbiter, which shall be composed of one Chief Overseas Labor Arbiter (COLA) and one Assistant Overseas Labor Arbiter (AOLA) per Philippine embassy and/or consulate.
“This Act does not discriminate between a Filipino holding his Philippine passport, and a Filipino who has no Philippine passport at all because, more often than not, passports are confiscated by employers,” he said.
“Likewise, this Act does not require that the OFWs should have an employment agency or be documented before their concerns could be heard, ” he added.
Under HB 7181, the Office of the Philippine Overseas Labor Arbiter shall have concurrent jurisdiction with all cognizable cases of the NLRC inclusive of its powers and authorities.
The COLA is mandated to have administrative control and supervision over the new office.
The bill provides that the amount necessary for the implementation of the proposed Act shall be initially charged against the current year’s appropriations of the DOLE.