Villar: Register household staff of PH diplomats with POEA, OWWA

Published October 31, 2020, 5:41 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Sen. Cynthia Villar urged the Department of Foreign Affairs Saturday to register all the household staff members of Filipino diplomats with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) to ensure their protection.

Sen. Cynthia Villar (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Villar made the appeal after Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro was caught maltreating a household staff in her diplomatic residence on various occasions.

She said her office checked with the POEA and OWWA and found out that neither of the two agencies have any record of the employment of Mauro’s domestic worker.

“Since our laws have clearly given the task of regulating overseas employment to the POEA and the care for the welfare of OFWs to OWWA, then this should also fairly apply to workers brought by ambassadors and other foreign service personnel to work in their residences abroad,” Villar said.

Villar believed there is no need for a law to institutionalize such a process since there are no private recruitment agencies involved and the employers and workers are both Filipinos.

“Under POEA rules, diplomats are allowed to directly hire domestic workers, but their contracts still need to be registered with the POEA. Why was this not followed in the case of Ambassador Mauro? Or is this being followed at all?”

“Perhaps, such acts of physical maltreatment and intimidation can be prevented with the participation of the POEA and OWWA in the hiring and deployment process to ensure a more transparent, professional, and welfare-driven approach in the treatment of domestic workers under the domicile of Philippine diplomats.”

Villar urged the DFA to meet the Department of Labor and Employment to discuss mechanisms to protect domestic workers brought by Philippine envoys abroad.

She said that household workers of ambassadors should also be entitled to the benefits enjoyed by other overseas domestic workers hired by foreign employers, such as scholarship benefits for their dependents; insurance and livelihood assistance, as well as the mandatory pre-departure orientation seminars to improve their knowledge about workers’ rights.

The DFA recalled Mauro after her maltreatment of her household staff was reported over Brazilian news outlet GloboNews last Sunday.

Last Thursday, President Duterte gave the go-signal to investigate Mauro.

“This paves the way for an immediate, impartial investigation into the matter. I hope that the DFA will be very thorough in its investigation and even consider sending a team to Brazil to gather all the necessary evidence and testimonies needed to resolve this case,” Villar said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he spoke with the kin of the Filipina worker. He was told that household worker used to work for Mauro’s mother before she was brought by the ambassador to Brazil.

Zubiri said the housemaid was “very willing” to execute an affidavit to authorities about the abuses she allegedly suffered while working for Mauro.