EDITORIAL - Regulating recruitment

The Philippine Star

There is no ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait, but the government has suspended the accreditation of foreign recruitment agencies in that country. The move was announced by the Department of Migrant Workers in the wake of the brutal murder of OFW Jullebee Ranara, whose badly burned body was found in the Kuwait desert on Jan. 22.

Kuwait officials have condemned the murder and vowed justice for the 35-year-old domestic helper, who was reportedly raped, tortured and killed by her Kuwaiti employer’s 17-year-old son. The suspect has been arrested.

Effective Jan. 29, tighter rules for the accreditation of foreign recruitment agencies as well as job orders and employment contracts were reportedly implemented by the Philippine government team in Kuwait. Under the new rules, foreign agencies with a record of clients seeking assistance or who landed in a welfare home because of their employers’ maltreatment will no longer be accredited.

Limits will also be set on applications for additional job orders as well as processing of individual employment contracts per agency, which must be accompanied by clearance from the Department of Migrant Workers. The foreign agencies must also submit a monthly monitoring report on the status of their deployed workers.

As in most laws and rules approved by the Philippines, the devil will be in the enforcement of the tighter regulations. Ensuring compliance with the rules is a problem not only with foreign agencies but also with recruiters in the Philippines.

Migrante, the global alliance of OFW organizations, says that even when a Philippine recruitment agency or individual recruiter has been blacklisted due to verified abuses or other problems suffered by its clients, the agency can simply obtain a new business license under a different name and continue its operations. As in the agriculture sector, there is no central database where prospective OFWs can easily conduct a background check on the credentials and track record of recruiters.

Following Ranara’s murder, the Marcos administration is reviewing the bilateral agreement with Kuwait that is meant to protect OFWs in that country, to identify areas for enhancement. The administration should also ensure that rules governing recruiters both in Kuwait and the Philippines are fully enforced, and errant agencies are properly penalized.


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