Review of OFW deployment protocols sought after reported abuse in Middle East

The Philippine government should review its protocols on the deployment of Filipino workers abroad, the chairman of the Senate labor committee said after thousands of abuse cases were reported in the Middle East last year.

Senator Joel Villanueva, citing figures from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, said 4,300 incidents of maltreatment of OFWs were reported in 2020.

His call came as the panel resumed public hearings on a proposed department for migrant Filipino workers’ affairs.

Referring to the sponsorship system that is prevalent in the Middle East, Villanueva said, “Kahit mag-deploy tayo ng skilled workers, kung [ang] pupuntahan nilang bansa ay may mga ganitong patakaran, mahihirapatan tayo na protektahan ang ating mga manggagawa.”

Known as the “kafala” system, the practice requires overseas workers to have the consent of their employers before they can exit the country or even transfer to other jobs.

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