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Congress adopts bicameral report amending Migrant Workers Act

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate adopted Monday night the bicameral conference committee report amending Republic Act 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers Act of 1995, to further improve the standard of protection, promotion of welfare and assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, concurrent chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and of the joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment, said the consolidated version of Senate Bill 3286 and House Bill 5649 features a combination of preventive measures to address problem in the recruitment and deployment of OFWs and better rescue and assistance mechanisms.

The proposed law explicitly instructs the government to continuously monitor international conventions, become signatory to and ratify those that guarantee protection to our migrant workers and to enter into bilateral agreements with countries currently hosting OFWs.

The bill also bestows accountability on the members of the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in the deployment of migrant workers.

Under the bill, government officials found responsible for the issuance of permits and allowing deployment of OFWs to countries that do not guarantee or comply with international labor standards shall suffer the penalty of dismissal from service or be disqualified from holding appointive public office for five years.

The bicameral report also defined “illegal recruitment” to include reprocessing workers through a job order that pertains to non-existent work, work different from the actual overseas work or work with a different employer whether registered or not with the POEA.

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The scheme, commonly termed as contract substitution, has victimized many OFWs who sign contracts here in the Philippines but execute and enter into new employment contracts upon reaching their destination.

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