Press Release
February 21, 2018

Drilon: Strict implementation of labor laws would prevent deaths, abuses of OFWs

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, a former labor secretary, urged the government to strictly implement the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act in order to prevent death and abuses of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from happening again.

"The government should mull over the ways for full and strict implementation of our labor laws," Drilon said.

"The full implementation of our labor laws would have prevented, or at least minimized, the number of deaths of overseas Filipino workers," he stressed.

The former labor secretary was appalled at the rising number of deaths and abuses among OFWs. In Kuwait alone, 185 deaths were recorded within the last two years.

"The law is very detailed, very clear. If this was implemented, we won't be confronted with this kind of problem. We have not done anything until this happened," Drilon said referring to the tragic death of Joanna Demafelis, an OFW in Kuwait.

Drilon said that imposing an employment ban would only serve as "a stop-gap measure", stressing that the government should ensure that the law is fully implemented.

"A ban alone will not be effective. It must be accompanied by stricter implementations of the law," he said.

He warned against the proliferation of illegal recruiters and scalawags who would try to go around the law to send OFWs to countries where there is an employment ban.

Drilon said there are numerous laws protecting the rights of OFWs "but implementation is lacking." He cited among them the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act (RA 8042 as amended by RA10022), which provides for the protection Filipinos abroad.

Citing Section 4 of the RA 8042, Drilon said "the deployment of overseas Filipino workers should only be in countries that have existing labor laws or are signatories to international conventions protecting migrant workers, or have bilateral agreements with our government for the protection of OFWs."

"Should this particular provision of the law been strictly implemented, maybe the 185 deaths of OFWs would not have happened," Drilon said.

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