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Philippines needs to approve first ‘Kasambahay’ measure

/ 02:21 AM June 18, 2011

The Philippines has to do some housekeeping before it can ratify the landmark Domestic Workers Convention giving protection to domestic workers the world over.

As the main proponent of the treaty at the International Labor Organization (ILO), the government has committed to ratifying the convention to ensure that it enters into force right away.

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However, Congress must first pass the Batas Kasambahay bill, a measure seeking to empower local household workers with better salaries and benefits, before it can ratify the convention, said Acting Labor Secretary Danilo Cruz.

“We can’t ratify the ILO convention if there is no existing local legislation that will implement [its] requirements,” Cruz told reporters Friday.

“We should be the first country to ratify it. We urge Congress to pass the pending bill and even probably recommend some amendments to the Labor Code to comply with the provisions of the convention,” said Cruz, the labor undersecretary for employment and manpower development.

Other countries, particularly major job destinations for household workers must also implement local legislation to ratify the convention, he said.

Late last year, the Senate passed on third and final reading the measure covering household workers, which also seeks to amend portions of the country’s Labor Code.

The Senate Kasambahay bill was principally sponsored by Senator Jinggoy Estrada. The House version, authored by Representative Diosdado “Dato” Macapagal-Arroyo, remains pending at the labor and employment committee.

Cruz said the adoption of the convention requires the Philippines to have its own legislation first protecting local domestics, who are called kasambahay, to distinguish them from Filipino domestics abroad, who are referred to as household service workers.

There are about 1.93 million households employing domestics in the Philippines, although the number could be higher, Cruz said.

The Visayan Forum, a nonprofit organization, estimated the number of locally employed domestic household workers at between 600,000 to 2.5 million. Jerome Aning and Jocelyn R. Uy

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TAGS: Congress, Domestic Workers Convention, International Labor Organization, Kasambahay Bill, labor code, Labor issues, Legislation
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