Domestic workers and advocates celebrate another first in Philippine history as President Benigno Aquino III called on Congress to prioritize the enactment of a law that will provide fair wages and benefits for domestic workers during his second State of the Nation Address, a press release from the Visayan Forum Foundation said.
“We are very happy that the president himself acknowledges the problem of the slave-like conditions of domestic workers, and is pushing for a stronger law that will give fair treatment and just benefits to us,” Lilibeth Masamloc, president of the Samahan at Ugnayan ng Manggagawang Pantahanan sa Pilipinas, said.
“This SONA is historic for us since domestic workers have long been ignored in policy discussions,” Masamloc added.
The Senate passed the Batas Kasambahay or the Magna Carta for Domestic Workers on December 2010. However, the Bill remains stalled at the House of Representatives despite tremendous clamor from domestic workers, trade unions, civil society groups, church leaders, and government agencies to pass it, the press release said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay recently joined the long list of leaders calling on the House of Representatives to fast-track its passage, it added.
Visayan Forum president and international human rights awardee Cecilia Flores-Oebanda is optimistic that Aquino’s SONA will spur representatives to work harder to ensure the passage of the Batas Kasamabahay.
The Batas Kasambahay increases the minimum wage of domestic workers from the 1993 level of P850 per month to P3,000, the press release said.
It also mandates a written contract, social security and health insurance coverage, and improved protection against abuse and exploitation, it added.
Aquino’s SONA on Batas Kasambahay comes after the adoption of an International Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, a binding international labor instrument that extends legal protection for all domestic workers worldwide, the press release also said.
“The Philippines fought long and hard for an international convention protecting Filipino domestic workers all over the world. The president’s message gave us another reason to dream that the Philippines will be the first country to ratify the Convention,” Oebanda said.
There are 1.7 million domestic workers in the Philippines.
An estimated nine million Filipino domestic workers are deployed worldwide.
Most of them are employed in Hong Kong and middle eastern countries, the press release said.*