Press Release
March 19, 2011


Senator Chiz Escudero underscored the need for the government to forge an agreement with countries employing Filipino workers to protect them against labor malpractice and abuses.

Since taking on overseas jobs remain a personal choice of millions of Filipinos, Escudero said the government should put in place a comprehensive labor migration policy for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to ensure that they are safe and protected.

According to the senator, the government should address the common complaints of OFWs against health and safety, labor malpractice, non-payment of overtime pay, absence of pay slips, poor accommodation, discrepancies in wages and repatriation in case of crisis, among others.

"It is high time that our government start to acknowledge that we have a labor-export policy and rid the industry of unscrupulous labor recruiters and protect our migrant workers," Escudero said. "We already have enough, ripe reasons to initiate a government- to-government arrangement for labor migration since we have long seen the reality of labor exodus of Filipinos to other countries. The Philippine government can no longer deny this."

"OFWs are our modern-day heroes and the remittances they send to their families propel our economy. I think the best way to repay them is to ensure that they would be safe and properly compensated in the countries where they would be deployed," Escudero added.

The senator also called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to look into the conditions of OFWs working in Madagascar, many of whom have contracted malaria in their work place.

Reports reaching Escudero's office said OFWs working in the Ambatovy project in the town of Toamasina had been asking the government that they wanted to be repatriated after their company, Kentz Engineers and Constructors, failed to pay them salaries and overtime pay.

Aside from labor malpractices, OFWs in Madagascar have also complained that they were not given any anti-malaria medication as the place in known to be infested with malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Escudero also asked the DFA and the DOLE to look into reports that a Filipino supervisor had succumbed to malaria last month in the area.

Kentz currently employs around 2,000 OFWs working in the Ambatovy project, a large-tonnage mining project that integrates many facilities to process and refine nickel into pure nickel briquettes.

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