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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Compulsory insurance can't protect OFWs from abuse, maltreatment


Challenging the implementation of compulsory insurance for Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), a Filipino migrant rights group based in the Middle East today said the provision for mandatory insurance as mandated by the Migrant Workers Act as amended (Republic Act 10022) is not a guarantee that OFWs will be protected from abuse and maltreatment.


“Compulsory OFWs insurance or an insurance package for OFWs is not a protection mechanism or a ‘tool’ to prevent abuses, maltreatment and labor malpractices, rather, it’s a form of reparation totally different from safeguarding the well being and rights of every OFW,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.


Monterona said it is misleading and a deception when the DoLE, POEA, and OWWA and other concerned government agencies telling us that with insurance or if insured, OFWs will be protected.


He added: “OFWs insurance, like any other insurance, is the compensation or amount of money or benefits an OFW would get after the damage or injury has been inflicted due to any cause, it maybe by accident or due to abuses and maltreatment by erring employers.”


“Of course, everybody wants reparation. But there is no amount of money that could compensate the loss of life of an OFW victim, or his rights violated, and his well-being degraded,” Monterona added. 


He cited the case of murdered OFW Romilyn Eroy-Ibanez, which until now the culprit has not been charged and remains scot-free.

Sometime on November, Eroy-Ibanez was found soaked on her own blood at her employer’s house in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia and was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead hours later due to several stab wounds and acid ingestion.


“Do you think if she has been insured, what happened to her, being a victim of abuse and maltreatment, would be prevented? Certainly, not,” Monterona declared.


Monterona further said: “The main point of what we have been repeatedly raising is the protection of OFWs against abuse and maltreatment which both governments, sending and receiving, are duty-bound to uphold and defend.”


“But if OFWs sending and receiving governments merely pass on their obligation of providing protection for migrant workers to recruitment agencies, and private entities, then rampant cases of abuses and maltreatment won’t stop, or at least, minimized,” Monterona ended.


Migrante chapters in the Middle East will be launching a signature campaign against the implementation of compulsory insurance and is considering the option of seeking a temporary restraining order in court.






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