POEA eases key provisions of policy

BRAD CAMPOS HONG KONG

Training of domestic helpers for overseas
deployment is not mandatory under the Supermaid
policy, Philippine labor officials said.

Those with previous and extensive experience as  
domestic helpers, either locally or abroad, may opt
to go directly for assessment by any accredited
assessment center of the Technical Education and
Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

They will only be required to undergo training if they
fail the assessment.

This emerged during the first Filipino Globe
Roundtable Conference, which brought together
labor officials in Manila with representatives from
the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong, NGOs,
migrants groups, employers and domestic helpers
to discuss the controversial policy.

Separately, Labor Secretary Arturo Brion said: "As
we have always been saying, the reforms that we
have been implementing are for the long-term as
the new standards would place the DHs on a better
footing against abuse and exploitation abroad."

The remarks came after the POEA relaxed two key
provisions of the controversial policy following
widespread protests.  It lowered the age limit from
25 to 23 and waived the training requirement for  
returning workers with existing contracts.

At the same time, it affirmed the no-placement fee
policy and a US$400 minimum pay, subject to
further discussions with host countries.

Under the new regulations, before a worker is
deployed overseas, she must obtain a certificate
from Tesda regarding her competence in certain
key skills.

POEA administrator Rosalinda Baldoz said Tesda,
which has the training and certification role in the
new policies issued by the POEA governing board,
does not collect and prescribe the training cost.

Training centers are allowed to determine their rate
and compete with the market. The prevailing
training fee ranges from P10,000 to P15,000 for the
mandatory 216 hours training.

The cost for Tesda assessment is P1,000 and the
whole assessment procedure takes about three to
four hours. The assessment center issues the
result immediately after.

As this developed, migrant pressed the
government for clear-cut guidelines in light of the
new changes to the policy.

“We urge the POEA [Philippine Overseas
Employment Administration] to immediately issue
guidelines reflecting these changes as soon as
possible,” the Filipino Community Services
Network said.

Migrant groups, meanwhile, are stepping up their
protest against the policy, demanding it be
scrapped.

They argue that the policy puts our domestic
helpers at a disadvantage with workers from other
countries.

Despite this, demand for Filipino household
service workers (HSWs), remained strong, the
Department of Labor said.

More than 500 job orders have been received from
employers in various host countries under the new
US$400 salary standard, Labor Secretary Arturo
Brion said.

Brion said the growing job orders have been
received 45 days since the new standard took effect
on December 16 last year.

These host countries include Brunei Darussalam,
Malaysia, Singapore, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar,
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab
Emirates (UAE), he said.

“In Brunei, we have verified 50 contracts, in
Malaysia we have verified 100 contracts, in
Singapore 100 contracts, Egypt, one contract,
Jordan, 50, Kuwait, 90, Qatar, 50, Saudi Arabia, 9,
and the UAE, 95, for a total of 545 in the past 45
days,” he said.

Brion said the job orders affirm the strength of the
global preference for quality overseas Filipino
workers, complemented by the capacities of
growing economies to adhere to the better
standard.

The labor department noted no decline in overall
deployment has been seen, with 61,126 were
placed this month compared to 57,120 last year, or
an increase of 7 per cent.

“Given these developments, recruitment agencies
who are greatly concerned about their business
should not fear about the future,” Brion said.

“The HSW deployment last year was only 9 per cent
of the total; hence, the reform in this sector need
not necessarily alarm recruitment agencies.”

Brion said that recruitment agencies are part of
their clientele and vowed to help and work with
them or “we can have a win-win solution where our
HSWs will be protected while our recruitment
agencies dealing with HSWs maintain their levels
of profitability.”

Brion added: "we have not outlawed placement
fees in HSW sector; we only directed that these be
collected from the principals, not the HSWs.”   
The reforms that we
have been
implementing are for
the long-term as the
new standards would
place the DHs on a
better footing against
abuse and exploitation
abroad
All rights reserved. Filipino Globe
Filipino Globe hosts a
roundtable
conference on the
Supermaid policy,
bringing together
migrant groups,
NGOs, domestic
helpers, employers
and government
officials.
Training not mandatory for all domestics
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