Press Release
July 13, 2019

De Lima reiterates OFW's need for human rights education

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has vowed to refile a measure seeking to strengthen human rights education and the system of legal assistance for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) amid continued reports of abuses against them.

In the coming 18th Congress, De Lima said she will refile a bill that would strengthen the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in educating OFWs about the full extent of their rights, especially on dealing with abusive employers.

"Abuses are still rampant among OFWs, with persistent reports of Filipino migrant workers suffering in the hands of their abusive employers because they don't know the full extent of their rights," said De Lima.

"We need to strengthen the CHR's mandate by tasking it with the continuing education and information dissemination among OFWs about human rights before they leave the country, to their actual deployment, and its periodic monitoring," she added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) recently confirmed that an OFW fell to her death in Morocco while attempting to escape an apartment building following an argument with her employer last June 22.

The said victim, who reportedly tried to escape using pieces of garment she tied together, succumbed to injuries she sustained after falling from the third floor of an apartment building in Casablanca.

De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, said the incident was only one among the many incidents involving OFWs who have lost their lives while working abroad, especially among Filipino household services workers (HSWs).

"Hindi makatao na habang ang mga OFWs ay nagsasakripisyo upang mabigyan ng mabuting kinabukasan ang mga pamilya nila sa Pilipinas, ay patuloy naman silang walang kalaban-laban sa mga pag-aabuso at banta laban sa kanilang buhay," said the former justice secretary.

In the 17th Congress, De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1785 seeking to amend Section 23 of R.A. No. 8042, as amended by R.A. No. 10022, mandating the CHR to "streamline human rights education programs for current and aspiring OFWs, in line with its function to implement preventive measures for Filipinos residing abroad who need protection."

The said measure was unacted upon by the Senate Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development Committee.

"Nakakalungkot na hindi ito nakausad para maging ganap na batas. That's why in the coming 18th Congress, I hope that my Senate colleagues can look at the importance of the measure highlighting human rights education for OFWs and help push for its swift passage into law," said De Lima.

A staunch defender of migrants' workers right, De Lima previously filed Senate Bill No. 961 redefining the crime of illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate as a group of three or more persons formed to carry out illegal deployment of Filipino workers abroad.

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