The Philippines has temporarily suspended the deployment of new household workers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a bid to prevent cases of physical abuse among Filipino migrant workers there.
In a virtual public briefing on Thursday, Dec. 2, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard P. Olalia said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has ordered to stop the processing of employment contracts of newly hired domestic workers.
“Ito pong kautusan na ito ni [DOLE] Secretary Silvestre Bello III ay upang repasuhin ang verification guidelines ng mga Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) sa Saudi Arabia (DOLE Secretary Bello issued the order to review the current verification guidelines of POLOs in Saudi Arabia),” Olalia said.
In the “very urgent” memorandum dated Nov. 25, Bello directed the POEA to issue new employment guidelines to save overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from being deployed to abusive foreign employers.
Bello’s order came after they received reports that a retired Saudi military general was still able to hire OFWs despite being a blacklisted employer over reports of physical abuse.
“Na-circumvent nila ang verification rules natin at nakita natin ang gap na iyon kaya kailangang baguhin ang verification rules upang hindi na maulit ang pang-aabuso ng employer (They were able to circumvent our verification rules. We already saw the gap so verification rules need to be changed to avoid abuse),” Olalia explained.
The POEA chief has vowed to come up with the new guidelines for the deployment of new domestic helpers as soon as possible, especially as thousands of household workers are being affected by the temporary ban.