‘House mothers’ sent to OFW shelters

Paterno R. Esmaquel II
DOLE also orders the installation of CCTV cameras in halfway houses for distressed OFWs

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.

READ: Sex-for-flight probers target halfway houses

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.

READ: To prevent sex-for-flight, females to staff OFW shelters

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.

READ: Envoy hit for ‘inaction’ over OFW abuse

Baldoz and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario will lead the government officials who will attend the investigation. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com