But government said that the move has also opened up the other markets where it hoped would also improve the situation of Filipino domestic helps and cutting down statistics on domestic abuses they currently experienced.
The Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) said that this was reported by “some” Filipino domestic helps working in many countries but mostly in the Middle Eastern countries.
Zenobia Caro, OWWA director for the Davao Region, said that the mandated minimum wage requirement that a Filipino domestic help should receive abroad may have sent some countries to look for other nationalities who offer lower services.
Filipino domestics previously receive at least $200 dollars and were numerous in many Middle Eastern countries.
Despite the downside, the move may spell improvement in the treatment and welfare of many Filipino domestic helps in many countries. Caro said that the Department of Labor and Employment has already negotiated with such countries as Canada, Australia and other first world countries to consider hiring Filipinos.
“We hope that these countries would hire many of our domestic helps,” she said, adding that the government has also increased or equipped them with other skills.
The training program was prompted by returning overseas workers from Lebanon, forced by the war between Hizbollah fighters entrenched in southern Lebanon, and Israel. The training program would be implemented soon by the OWWA office in Intramuros, Manila.
Caro said that she hoped the condition of Filipino domestic helpers would be vastly improved in the new countries that the DOLE has negotiated for new hirings.
So far, cases of abuses have been rampant in Middle Eastern countries like Kuwait, where she said many abuses were committed, Jordan and Lebanon. She said that the high number of cases in Kuwait may be traced to the cultural treatment of domestic helps as slaves “and thus are not entitled to many things”.
She said that OWWA has monitored a still increasing number of Filipinos going abroad, many of them seeking jobs as domestic helps.
Although she said that there were a few Davao residents, or residents in neighboring provinces, who were monitored to have suffered abuses from employers, she said OFWs from the ARMM and Central Mindanao regions were prone to abuses and trafficking.
“This is due to the low level of education and the fact that many of these residents have no birth certificates or other legal documents, which forced many of them to fake their papers,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Pag-ibig Fund has set its eyes on the OFW market for their additional source of beneficiaries, describing the sector as “a potentially rich area for our services”.
Manolito Olegario, acting manager of the Davao City office of Pag-ibig Fund said his office in Manila has already directed them to hire a personnel solely to handle the OFW beneficiaries.
He said that the OFWs have not been given priority in the past owing to the office’s concentration “in perfecting the enforcement of the housing fund to government, and later to the private sector employees”.
“It was only lately that we have to look at the OFWs as the next sector to be extended our services,” he said. “So far, we have covered only 10 percent of the OWWA beneficiaries here in the Davao Region.”
Caro said that they have 20,000 OFWs in their list in the region.
Olegario said that the Pag-ibig Fund would extend housing security and savings security to OFWs.