De Lima files bill to strengthen HR education of OFWs | Inquirer News
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De Lima files bill to strengthen HR education of OFWs

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 10:11 AM May 02, 2018

Detained Senator Leila de Lima has sought the  passage  of a measure to strengthen human rights education and the system of legal assistance for migrant workers and ensure that abuses against them are prevented.

De Lima said Senate Bill (SB) No. 1785, which she had filed, seeks to strengthen the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) Constitutional mandate “by legislating the mechanism that will ensure the continuing education and information dissemination among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on human rights from the point of pre-departure to actual deployment, and its periodic monitoring.”

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“It also seeks to legislate the active involvement and coordination of the CHR in the government’s provision of legal assistance to the OFWs,” she said in a statement on Wednesday. De Lima previously headed the CHR and the Department of Justice before she was elected senator in 2016.

In filing the bill, the senator cited the controversial cases of Joanna Demafelis, Mary Jane Veloso, and Sarah Balabagan.

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Demafelis’ body was found in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait in February 2018,  Veloso  was convicted for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin at the Yogyakarta Airport in 2010 while Balabagan was found guilty of murder in 1995 for stabbing to death her employer, who allegedly attempted to rape her.

De Lima said that while Republic Act  No. 8042 known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995”  has already been enforced for decades, “questions still linger in terms of the effectiveness of the measure in educating OFWs on human rights.”

Under the measure, the CHR is mandated to develop and monitor a human rights education program for OFWs, in partnership with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labor and Employment and other concerned government agencies.

The program, she said, would also supplement the pre-departure and the post-arrival orientation seminars by integrating human rights education in the agencies’ respective programs.

“The CHR, also as Gender Ombud, is duty-bound to enhance comprehensive efforts to streamline human rights education programs for current and aspiring OFWs, in line with its function to implement preventive measures for Filipinos residing abroad who need protection,” De Lima said.

The senator   stressed that OFWs would remain “vulnerable in the hands of illegal recruiters, abusive employers, and human traffickers” if they are unaware of the full extent of their rights, and they are not provided with adequate legal assistance when needed.   /muf

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TAGS: De Lima, Human rights, human rights education, Migrant workers
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