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Bishops back ban on Filipino maids

Saudi's decision is a blessing in disguise and will prevent abuse problems, they say

A government official talks to repatriated overseas domestic workers who escaped from their employers A government official talks to repatriated overseas domestic workers who escaped from their employers
  • Lourdes Abelardo and ucanews.com staff, Manila
  • Philippines
  • July 4, 2011
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The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) today welcomed the decision of Saudi Arabia to stop hiring domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia, saying it gives the Philippine government one less source of headache.

Father Edwin Corros, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said the ban – although not desired by the Aquino administration – would prevent the recurring problem of abuse against Filipino maids by foreign employers.

“It’s better that we stop deploying household service workers (HSWs) to Saudi Arabia to avoid exploitation like what we often read in the papers,” he said.

Saudi Arabia said last week it would block their hiring from the Philippines and Indonesia, citing strict requirements and unfair regulatory provisions, according to Arab News.

New contracts made by the Philippines require foreign employers of Filipino domestic helpers to pay a minimum wage of US$400 a month as well as urging employers to provide family information and the layout of the residence where the domestic helper will be working.

The move will affect some 180,000 domestic workers, such as maids and drivers, or about 15 percent of the 1.2 million Filipinos now in Saudi Arabia.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, however, downplayed the Saudi decision, saying the government can turn to Australia and Canada, which are experiencing a “labor shortage.”

The Philippine labor attachés in those countries, she said, are currently in talks with officials there to “match the labor demand with labor supply."

Some sectors in the Philippine have been asking for a ban on domestic workers to the Middle East, saying the problems caused by their deployment far outweigh the benefits gained by the government and the migrant workers.

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