THE government should discourage the deployment of Filipino household service workers (HSWs) to countries where they are not adequately protected by the “rule of law,” Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said over the weekend.
“As it is, our HSWs abroad are already susceptible to abuse, not only because their skills are easy to replace, but also because they live in virtual isolation with their employers. If we continue to send them to work in countries where the rule of law is perceived to be weak, they become even more exposed to potential harm,” Pimentel warned.
The Jan. 25 hanging of Filipino HSW Jakatia Pawa in Kuwait has put the spotlight on the Philippines’ export of labor, especially low-skilled HSWs.
Pawa, a native of Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, was put to death for the 2007 murder of her Kuwaiti employer’s 22-year-old daughter.
But Pawa’s family claims that the 41-year-old widow and mother of two was a victim of miscarriage of justice, and that she was framed up by her employer.
Up until her execution, Pawa had maintained that her employer’s daughter, who was stabbed to death, had been “arranged” to marry somebody, but was caught having sex with another man.
“It was a very shameful violation, considering that the family is prominent and wealthy. They killed the daughter but blamed Jakatia,” said ACTS OFW Party-list Rep. Aniceto John Bertiz.
There are a number of countries that host many Filipino HSWs, and have good reputations of adhering strictly to the rule of law, according to Pimentel.
“In these countries, when the employee is victimized, the abuser gets punished. This has helped to deter ill-treatment, so our HSWs enjoy a large degree of protection from the rule of law,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said the Philippine government should lessen the overseas deployment of low-skilled workers such as HSWs, and concentrate instead on the placement of professionals and other high-skilled workers that the country has ample supplies of.
“We have many Filipino nurses and midwives from Mindanao who provide home care services for the sick and elderly in the Middle East. They too live with their employers, but we seldom come across cases of mistreatment. They are well taken care of by their employers. This is because their skills are very difficult to replace,” Pimentel said.