'House mothers' sent to OFW shelters
MANILA, Philippines – To prevent sexual abuses, full-time “house mothers” will start supervising all halfway houses for distressed migrant workers, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Wednesday, August 14.
In a statement, the DOLE said it also ordered the installation of “sufficient” closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in all halfway houses, called Bahay Kalinga. The agency said the same rule goes for all Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO).
The DOLE issued these rules under Administrative Order No. 262-A, Series of 2013, to revamp POLO supervision.
“The rules are designed to be gender-balanced and sensitive and values-oriented – in strong consideration of the plight of disadvantaged female migrant workers abroad,” Baldoz said.
In its statement, the DOLE also outlined the following new rules:
- Only female personnel should directly attend to the complaints and cases of their wards, especially during initial interviews;
- If a male case officer would handle the next counseling and updating sessions, the officer should do this “in the presence of the house parent or a female POLO staff”;
- A clear glass-enclosed room should be installed in each Bahay Kalinga as a venue for all transactions with wards; and
- Each Bahay Kalinga should maintain a first-aid kit for wards and personnel
Investigators have singled out halfway houses as the starting point of the sex-for-flight scheme.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz told Rappler last August 8 that the Philippines will appoint more females to staff these halfway houses to prevent the sex-for-flight scheme.
This is unprecedented, Baldoz said.
“Mas naiintindihan nila ang sitwasyon ng kababaihan, lalo na 'yung mga distressed worker, na hindi naman sila kaagad nag-o-open up,” Baldoz said after a Senate hearing on the alleged sex-for-flight scheme. (They understand better the situation of women, especially distressed workers who don’t easily open up.)
The Senate will resume its hearings on the sex-for-flight scheme on Thursday, August 15.
Baldoz and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario will lead the government officials who will attend the investigation. – Rappler.com