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Saturday, February 24, 2024

CHR backs amendments on theft

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The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is supporting a proposal to delete a provision in Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for singling out domestic workers (“kasambahay”) for qualified theft.

Under Article 310 of the RPC, qualified theft shall be punishable “if committed by a domestic servant, or with grave abuse of confidence, or if the property stolen is a motor vehicle, mail matter, or large cattle, among others.”

“While mutual trust and confidence exist between a ‘kasambahay’ and employer, there are also many other similar professions that necessitate such level of trust and confidence,” it argued.

“Therefore, it is discriminatory to single out domestic workers based on the said grounds. The law must avoid perpetuating existing culture of abuse considering that the said provision has been used by employers to threaten their ‘kasambahay,’” it cited.

The CHR also said it welcomes another proposed amendment in Article of the RPC which is to replace the term “domestic servants” to domestic workers.

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“CHR supports this amendment as the current term reflects the emphasis on class distinctions and tolerance of social injustice in the past,” it said.

The CHR also said it is supporting the amendment of Republic Act No. 10361 or the Domestic Workers Act or Batas Kasambahay, too,

“In recognition of the persisting instances of harassment against domestic workers, CHR supports the proposed amendments to strengthen penalties on crimes committed against domestic workers,” it noted.

In response to the severe maltreatment of Elvie Vergara, a

44-year-old househelp in Occidental Mindoro, committed by her employers since 2020, Senator Raffy Tulfo has sought to amend the crime of qualified theft under the RPC, and RA 10361 to impose stricter sanctions against abusive employers and to establish emergency hotline in every barangay that could respond immediately to the complaints of a domestic worker in distress.

CHR cited the International Labor Organization’s 2011 recommendation to protect the rights of workers by ensuring that they are given immediate access to aid once they need them.

“CHR supports this amendment as the current term reflects the

emphasis on class distinctions and tolerance of social injustice in the past. Further, it ensures that the Constitution’s declaration of

valuing the dignity of every human person is upheld by guaranteeing proper and equal representation of every individual in the law,” it said.

“It also removes the prejudicial undertones and inferior view toward domestic workers embedded in the term,” it added, referring to the term domestic servants.

Citing a 2020 Philippines Statistics Authority survey and Department of Labor and Employment, CHR lamented that only 41 percent of the country’s domestic workers were aware of RA 10361.

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