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Philippine Lawmakers Mull Ban on Middle East Labour

On November 10, 2009

The Philippines may resort to banning the deployment of workers to Middle Eastern countries due to abuse by employers, according to a report made public by a team of lawmakers this week. (See full story in The Inquirer here)

Philippina housemaids working in Middle Eastern countries are 'modern day slaves' according to Luz Ilagan and Carlos Padilla, who headed a fact-finding mission between 2 and 8 November. The delegation visited shelters in Abu Dhabu, Dubai, Ridyadh, Jeddah and Jordan and spoke to over 4000 Philippine nationals. They were 'overwhelmed' by the problems facing Philippinos in the Middle East, according to Ilagan.

“Although I would not dispute that they are the unsung heroes, they are the modern-day slaves especially in the Middle East” said Padilla.

Part of the problem is that there is no bilateral labour agreement between the Philippine government and those of the Middle Eastern countries to safeguard the rights of workers, according to the delegation.

Domestic workers are by far the most vulnerable group of migrants and account for the majority of cases of abuse and death in the region. Out of 1.4 million Overseas Philippino Workers (OFWs) in the Middle East, 30% are domestic workers according to Padilla, who says that 70% of the demands to Philippine embassies are from this group.