Press Release
March 20, 2018


Senator Nancy Binay said the Senate will look into the prevalent use of "agents" working for licensed recruitment agencies on a commission basis, citing the case of OFW Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer in her employer's apartment in Kuwait.

Recently, another domestic worker was sent home by her Arab employer after the latter found out that she did not know even a single word of English. In an interview with the media, the worker admitted that she was brought to the licensed recruitment agency by an "agent" who filled up all the forms in her behalf.

In the case of Demafelis, she was also referred to the Our Lady of Mount Carmel E-Global Resources by an "agent" who received P13,000 in commission.

"The recruitment industry is in dire need of reforms because they hold the lives of our OFWs in their hands. If we allow unethical agencies to continue paying huge commissions to unaccountable agents, then this vicious cycle of abuse and human trafficking will continue," Senator Binay said.

She noted that POEA rules strictly prohibit the use of "sub-agents" and require every licensed agency to submit the names and designations of their employees.

"We also learned that there were instances when recruitment agencies deploy minors and inexperienced workers to the Middle East much to the frustration of foreign employers and to the detriment of our own workers. This practice of supplying domestic workers for overseas jobs on a commission basis must stop because it promotes the trafficking of women," Binay added.

She said her office is preparing a resolution to initiate a Senate inquiry into the deployment of domestic workers to the Middle East through the use of agents and even sub-agents.

"Even if we sign as many bilateral labor agreements that we could negotiate, unless we correct and prevent malpractices in the recruitment of Filipino domestic workers for jobs overseas, the welfare cases received by our diplomatic posts will remain unabated," Binay said.

She said special attention must be given towards enhancing ethical recruitment policies for domestic workers because they belong to the most vulnerable group of overseas workers.

"Until now, we can't even locate the actual owners of the recruitment agency that deployed Joanna Demafelis. They should be made to explain their operations including the use of agents that led to the continued exploitation and abuse of Joanna," Binay said.

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