Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW)

Some 21 overseas Filipino health workers from Sana’a arrived Tuesday (Jan. 14) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 1 (NAIA 1) via QR926. They were assisted by a staff of Vice President Jejomar Binay. Some 10 million Filipinos are working overseas, providing much-needed dollars to the Philippines through their remittances they send to their loved ones back home.(MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz clarified on Monday that the government does not plan on signing any agreement that will in effect “rent out” overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

“I think the word rent is not the appropriate term. We will never negotiate anything that would reduce the level of protection of our workers,” Baldoz told reporters after the awarding of outstanding recruitment and manning agencies at the Palace.

She issued the statement after Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello was quoted by news site Arab News as saying that a planned agreement between DOLE and Saudi recruitment firms will “legally allow Saudi companies and recruiters to independently recruit Filipino workers and rent them out to private and government employers.”

Bello also said that the salaries of OFWs will be determined by the agencies and in effect be reduced.

But Baldoz said the government has no plans to sign such a deal and that OFWs continue to be hired either directly or through foreign placement agencies.

She explained that the only change was that recruitment agencies in Saudi Arabia came together to create 10 “mega” recruitment agencies, to whom the Saudi Ministry of Labor issues working visas in bulk.

“That means a better handling in terms of monitoring of their operations [but] the issue of mega recruitment is the Saudi regulation, not ours,” she said.

Baldoz added that this is the reason she sent a technical team to Saudi Arabia to negotiate the implementing protocol.

“We [will] see to it that whether they are operating in mega recruitment system or under a new system, the level of protection that our workers have before will continue to be guaranteed,” she said.  (MNS)