MANILA, Philippines - The Saudi Arabian government has stopped hiring Filipino domestic helpers, citing the strict requirements imposed by the Philippine labor office.
''For one is the requirement asked by the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Saudi Arabia requiring employers to submit a detailed sketch of their house address before a job order could be approved, the aim of which is to pinpoint exactly whose household our OFW (overseas Filipino workers) is working for and that she could easily be traced and rescued in case she has been a victim of abuse and maltreatment,'' Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in a statement issued Monday.
The Saudi government recently issued a ''Note Verbale'' to the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh saying ''processing and verification of household service workers have been stopped until further notice.''
According to Monterona, prospective Saudi employers convey their opposition to the Saudi National Recruitment Committee (Sanarcom), an organization of recruitment agents, on the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) requirement sometime on January.
''In fact, the Sanarcom had written the Philippine embassy and POLO in Riyadh expressing their opposition to this policy and threatened to stop hiring OFW-DH (OFW-domestic helpers) if this will be made as a requirement as it violates Saudi employers rights to privacy as stated on the host government's local laws,'' the OFW leader pointed out.
A report by the House of Representatives baring supposed abuses by Saudi nationals was also cited as a reason for the ban.
As this developed, Monterona is urging the Philippine government through the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to consider sending a high-level labor diplomatic team to discuss with its counterpart the ban imposed by the host government and negotiate taking into account the OFWs well being, rights, and welfare.
Last month, the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA), chaired by Rep. Walden Bello, recommended to the Philippine government the immediate decertification of Saudi Arabia as it noted that the country is unfit to receive Filipino domestic workers.
According to Bello, continuing to send Filipino domestic workers to Saudi Arabia is like ''selling them to virtual slavery in households where rape, sexual abuse, and physical attacks are rampant.''
Bello pointed out that until such time that the Saudi government accepts the responsibility of policing their nationals and protecting the rights, and ensuring the welfare of household service workers, ''it is incumbent upon the government to suspend the deployment of Filipinas to Saudi Arabia.''
Monterona said the move by the Saudi government to stop the hiring of overseas Filipino domestic workers exposes the dilemma of the Philippine government's ''lucrative business of peddling its cheap human labor sans protection of their well-being, rights, and welfare.'' (Roy C. Mabasa)
Reposted From Manila Bulletin