CHR commissioner calls for rights-based approach to the deployment of domestic workers to the Middle East; urges owners of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Global E-Human Resources to surrender

CHR commissioner calls for rights-based approach to the deployment of domestic workers to the Middle East; urges owners of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Global E-Human Resources to surrender

05 March 2018 | Press Release from the Office of Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana

QUEZON CITY – Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana of the Commission of Human Rights called for a rights-based approach to the recruitment and deployment of overseas Filipino workers as she expressed concern over the prevalence of the illegal transfer of domestic workers from one employer to another particularly in the Middle East.

“The flawed manner by which Joanna Demafelis was deployed demonstrates the need to promote a rights-based approach to the recruitment and deployment of Filipino domestic workers overseas,” the CHR’s focal person on migrant workers’ rights said.

She said that a rights-based approach to overseas deployment would require ethical practices such as the proper vetting of foreign employers and foreign recruitment agencies to ensure that they are capable and qualified to be accredited by the POEA.

It also meant that Philippine recruitment agencies should not allow their licenses to be used for commercial purposes by “agents” and “sub-agents” with ready employers overseas.

Commissioner Gana cited the recent warning aired by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) against licensed recruitment agencies allowing their licenses and offices to be used by non-licensed recruiters with foreign principals.

According to the POEA, a “tie-up” arrangement is a scheme where recruiters with foreign principals and job orders but without proper authority and accreditation from the POEA engage the services and facilities of a licensed agency in the Philippines to make it appear that the recruitment process is legal.

Commissioner Pimentel-Gana surmised that this could have happened in the tragic case of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait.

Recently, the Philippine National Police presented to the media a distant relative of Joanna Demafelis who admitted receiving P13,000 after referring Joanna to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Global E-Human Resources, a POEA-licensed recruitment agency that had been ordered shut in 2016.

“We hope that the real owners of Joanna’s recruitment agency, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Global E-Human Resources, would now surface to shed light on the manner by which they processed her deployment papers. The illegal use of “tie-ups” can endanger the lives of our OFWs especially domestic workers since the workers are deceived into thinking that their recruiter is an employee of a legitimate recruitment agency,” the commissioner added.

Flawed and illegal recruitment schemes also extend beyond Philippine borders as cases of Filipino domestic workers being transferred from one employer to the next particularly in the Middle East continue to abound.

“The Commission on Human Rights will soon establish a migrant workers’ rights observatory to gather information regarding the illegal transfer of Filipino domestic workers particularly in the Middle East from one employer to another, even while the original contract has yet to expire,” Commissioner Gana said.

She stressed that such schemes may lead to the forced labor trafficking of Filipino domestic workers because they are compelled to simply follow the instructions of their foreign agency or foreign employer.

“In the case of Joanna Demafelis, we are not even sure who her original Kuwaiti employer was. Her deployment path to Kuwait needs to be established by competent authorities as part of the family’s quest for justice, and to ensure that meaningful reforms are undertaken,” Commissioner Pimentel-Gana said. ■

 

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