Fewer OFW abuse cases recorded after ethical recruitment plan adopted

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Thursday that fewer maltreatment and abuse cases involving Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were recorded after the country adopted an action plan in ensuring fair and ethical recruitment of workers.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the first-ever National Action Plan to Mainstream Fair and Ethical Recruitment (NAP-FER) of OFWs was recently launched in collaboration with multi-stakeholders in overseas employment including the IOM Philippines and the Blas F. Ople Policy Center with support from the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS).

Under the plan, land-based recruitment agencies that strictly abide by a code of ethics that would include ensuring decent employment, no unjustified fees, and contract violations, and strict monitoring of its workers would be entitled to incentives that would be the subject of tripartite consultations.

“The action plan is being adopted at a time when our traditional labor markets are poised to open their doors to Filipino workers after the hiatus caused by COVID-19,” Bello said.

The labor secretary said the plan aims to provide digital solutions to monitor welfare cases and ensure prompt action by private recruitment firms and government agencies.

He added that it also seeks to improve on existing mechanisms for reporting, monitoring, and redress of migrant workers’ grievances as well as providing OFWs better access to these.

“With the National Action Plan we commit to sustain and redouble our efforts to enhance the protection of our fellow Filipinos working abroad by making Ethical Recruitment a cornerstone of our policy initiatives and strategies in the years to come,” Bello said.

Meanwhile, OFW advocate Susan Ople, head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said the implementation of the national action plan will improve the relationship between the recruitment agency and its workers.

“It is the easiest thing to say that one is ethical, but actions speak loudest when everyone else around you concur with that statement. In mainstreaming ethical recruitment, we hope to define that lofty phrase and break it down into operational, evidence-based realities,” she added.

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