Senators call for justice for scalded OFW

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

SENATOR Cynthia Villar on Saturday asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to exhaust all means to get justice for the 22-year-old Filipina household service worker who was physically abused by her female Saudi employer.

The victim, Pahima Alagasi Palacasi, sustained severe injuries on her back and legs after her female employer poured boiling water on her.

Palacasi, a domestic helper deployed in Saudi Arabia, suffered second-degree burns after her employer poured boiled water on her for failure to give her coffee.

"I ask the DFA to use the Legal Assistance Fund and get the best lawyers who will give Candice the justice she deserves," Villar said.

Villar also said the Department of Labor and Employment should invoke the provisions of the bilateral labor agreement the Philippines signed with Saudi's labor ministry.

"Clearly there is violation of the rights of Candice as a documented overseas Filipino worker (OFW). Those responsible should be penalized," she said.

Villar learned the plight of Candice from the Ople Foundation and immediately appealed to DFA to facilitate the OFW's repatriation.

"The public should also monitor the action of government in the case of Candice. It is important to show the world that we value our OFWs and we will do everything to save them from injustice and abusive employers," Villar said.

For his part, Senator Jinggoy Estrada on Saturday stressed the need to ensure safety and welfare of domestic workers, mostly Filipinas, abroad through stricter implementation of deployment and anti-trafficking laws and active utilization of diplomatic instruments.

"The horrific case of Ms. Palacasi should never happen again. And the government must ensure that our workers don’t end up on the hands of abusive employers and suffer inhumane working conditions and maltreatment," Estrada said.

According to a report to Congress by the DFA for 2013, there are at least 364,228 domestic workers in the Middle East region alone.

Moreover, data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) show that on 2012, 155,831 Filipinos have been deployed to be employed as household service workers. The same data set reveal that there is a steady increase in the number of workers deployed as domestic workers for the past years – 50,082 in 2008, 96,583 in 2010, and more than 155,000 in 2012.

Estrada, chairman of the senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development, pointed out that the government must also make use of all the available diplomatic channels and instruments in protecting thousands of Filipino household service workers scattered across the globe.

The lawmaker said that the country must negotiate for more bilateral labor agreements, especially between countries employing a huge number of Filipino workers. He also said that the country could mobilize support toward the ratification and implementation among member-states of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189 concerning decent work for domestic workers.

ILO Convention 189 came into force last September 2013 after the Philippines became the second country after Uruguay to ratify it. The said convention establishes minimum labor standards for domestic workers and offers among others protection from all forms of abuse, harassment and violence. (Camille P Balagtas/Sunnex)

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