Bangsamoro workers abroad get protection as BTA passes landmark bill

Published June 18, 2021, 10:04 AM

by Zea Capistrano

DAVAO CITY – The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament approved on Thursday the Overseas Bangsamoro Workers Act of 2020.

In a statement, Member of the Parliament and Labor Minister Romeo Sema, the principal author of the bill, said the passage of the Overseas Bangsamoro Workers Act of 2020 “is a significant achievement that shall be part of the history of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.”

Parliament Bill No. 36 seeks to “institutionalize policies for Bangsamoro overseas employment, and establish a standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of overseas Bangsamoro workers and their families.” Fifty-seven members of the BTA approved the bill through nominal voting on Thursday, June 17.

One of the salient provisions of the bill is in Article IV, Section 24 which “provides that the Bangsamoro Government shall allow the deployment of OBWs (overseas Bangsamoro workers) only in countries where the rights of overseas Bangsamoro workers are protected.”

Member of the Parliament and Labor Minister Romeo Sema, the principal author of the bill, said the passage of the Overseas Bangsamoro Workers Act of 2020 on Thursday, June 17, shows that the Bangsamoro Government is committed to protect overseas Bangsamoro workers against abuses. (Photo courtesy of Bangsamoro Information Office)

The bill provides for the protection of the OBWs’ right to equality, equal pay, work, rest and leisure, standard treatment, and guarantee of privacy.

It states that “every OBW shall always get the right amount of pay for the work he/she renders.”

“The employer or any member of the company shall not subject an OBW to any kind of abuse nor inflict any form of physical violence or harassment or any act tending to degrade the dignity of OBWs,” it added.

Sema said the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), will establish a help desk for OBWs in every Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) of the country the OBWs have been deployed.

The help desk aims to “assist, monitor, make, and submit (an) inventory of all OBWs in the respective country, their employment status and condition to MOLE.”

Sema said the bill “is a clear manifestation that the Bangsamoro Government, thru the (MOLE), is strongly committed to protect our overseas Bangsamoro workers against abuses, maltreatment, trafficking, imprisonment, or illegal migration, and provide comprehensive intervention and support to advance their welfare including their families.”

 
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