Following a recent incident of an OFW in Kuwait, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has suggested a review of policies with other nations where there have been cases of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) abused.
In a press-conference, CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said that government action should ensure that the death of Constancia Dayag in Kuwait and the alleged maltreatment of another OFW in Saudi Arabia would not happen again.
“These fresh incidents of grim fate and maltreatment of OFWs, particularly in the Middle East, once again stress the need for the review of agreements with the said countries to guarantee non-repetition and to improve working conditions,” De Guia said.
“We express our deepest sympathies and send our prayers to the family and friends of Constancia. The CHR also hopes to provide support for [the maltreated OFW] as she recovers from the trauma she suffered. Expedient reforms need to be put in place to ensure that no OFW will suffer the same fate,” she added.
Dayag, 47, was found dead inside her employer’s house on May 14. Bruises and contusions on her body and other injuries suggest that she was sexually assaulted before dying.
The household worker’s body has been brought back to the Philippines on May 24. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, the government agencies have already filed a criminal case on behalf of Dayag’s relatives.
The Department of Labor and Employment, on the other hand, has asked the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a second autopsy on Dayag’s body.
CHR said that these are welcome developments, although they encouraged DFA to guarantee a quick response for OFWs who may be in dire situations.
“We welcome the move of the Department of Foreign Affairs to file criminal charges against the employers of Constancia. But more than this, the quick response needs to be guaranteed for urgent distress calls or signs of maltreatment to prevent the worst from happening,” De Guia noted.
“We have also previously recommended for stricter monitoring of all OFWs as a preventive measure for human rights abuses and modern-day slavery,” she added.
The commission, on the other hand, asked the foreign governments where OFWs were abused to provide concrete solutions in protecting the rights of migrant workers.
“The countries where violations repeatedly occur must be able to provide positive and concrete measures to protect the rights of Filipino migrant workers,” De Guia explained.
“The Migrant Workers’ Act or R.A. 10022 specifically indicates that the government allows the deployment of OFWs only in countries where their rights are protected without compromise. Access to justice, emergency response, psychosocial, and medical treatment must also be guaranteed by the labor-receiving country especially for aggrieved OFWs,” she said.