MANILA – Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz has ordered an investigation into reports that Filipinos are among foreign domestic workers being put on display and made available for “purchase” at “discounted prices” in some shopping malls in Singapore.
“Verify this report if true, and submit a definitive assessment. Coordinate with POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) and lay down stricter measures in the deployment of HSWs (household service workers) to Singapore, to ensure they are protected from even the slightest moral and psychological abuse, such as being made to display themselves in malls as if they are commodities,” Baldoz told the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Singapore headed by Labor Attache Vicente Cabe.
Baldoz said that officials of POLO and POEA should come up with “stricter measures to protect Filipinodomestic workers from such practice that degrades human dignity.”
News reports have identified the Bukit Timah Shopping Center in Central Singapore as one of the malls that have stalls where foreign HSWs are being offered like commodities at “super promo rates.”
Baldoz said that, if true, this kind of practice is an affront to the dignity of the workers.
The labor chief directed POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac to conduct an “inventory” of all POEA-licensed recruitment agencies deploying HSWs to Singapore and to find out if any one of these are privy to, or involved in any way, with the practice.
“If it is foreign placement agencies (FPAs) that are involved, slap them with applicable sanctions, such as blacklisting them from hiring OFWs, or canceling their accreditation with the POLO,” she added.
She said that POLO, OWWA (the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), and the POEA must work closely together to ensure that HSWs and other OFWs have a decent place with adequate space to stay or visit at the Filipino Workers Resource Center, or Bahay Kalinga, where they could engage in productive and wholesome activities.
“This way, they will not spend their rest days in places where they could become vulnerable to unhealthy and unproductive pastimes,” she said.
Baldoz also ordered OWWA Administrator Rebecca Calzado to make 24/7 hotline services accessible at the Center to HSWs in Singapore, particularly those who would like to lodge complaints about their working conditions.