Press Release
June 26, 2006


Senator Manny Villar, Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, expressed alarm over the rise in violence against women overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the increasing number of child laborers in the country, many of whom are even employed in dangerous jobs.

In view of this, Villar recent filed Senate Bill 2397 an act mandating the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) to include in its program for overseas employment the mandatory teaching of basic self-defense techniques for women applicants.

"These are dangerous times we are living in, especially for Filipino women who are taking their chances and getting employment abroad. Most of them are literally left at the mercy of their employers and the people around them. Recently, 17 women OFWs were reportedly repeatedly raped by jail guards in their detention cells in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon," cites Villar.

Villar further cites, "These forms of violence against women OFWs can be averted by a program that will require them to take lessons on basic self-defense techniques. This will allow them to be physically prepared for assaults."

Villar also filed Senate Resolution 500 directing the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation into the reported existence of at least four million child laborers in the Philippines with the end view of reviewing Republic Act (R.A.) 9231 or the act providing for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and affording stronger protection for the working child.

R.A. 9231 mandates the provision of special protection to children from all forms of abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation and discrimination, and other conditions prejudicial to their development including child labor and its worst forms.

It was revealed on a recent study by the National Coalition Against Child Labor that there are four million child laborers in the country and 2.8 million of them are employed in dangerous jobs, particularly in commercial agriculture.

"Most of those in commercial agriculture are exposed to pesticides used by farms to remain competitive in the world market. The constant exposure of children to pesticides has led to various serious illnesses particular cancer," cites Villar on his Senate Resolution.

Cited in the resolution as among the worst forms of child labor in the country are commercial agriculture, mining and quarrying, deep-sea fishing, pyrotechnics manufacturing, prostitution, pornography and domestic work.

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