THE Philippines deployed fewer domestic workers to the Middle East this year because of the decision of Saudi Arabia to recruit household workers from other countries.
Saudi Arabia is the leading destination of Filipino domestic workers, recruiting more than 60,000 in 2014.
In a report submitted to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Administrator Hans Candac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said the deployment of household service workers (HSWs) decreased by 20 percent from January to May 2015, compared to the same period in 2014.
Saudi Arabia leads the countries with decreased number of newly hired HSWs, registering only 20,949 compared to 26,570 in 2014. It is followed by the United Arab Emirates which hired only 215 HSW in 2015 compared to 13,440 in 2014; and Hong Kong, which recruited 5,825 HSWs compared to 8,409 in 2014.
Other countries also posted a decrease in the recruitment of HSWs. Singapore hired 3,798, down from 4,853 in 2014; Bahrain, from 2,029 to 1,982; Malaysia, from 4,179 to only 1,725; Cyprus, from 424 to 322; Brunei, from 273 to 147; and Macau, from 143 to 75.
This prompted DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Monday to order the POEA to conduct a fresh assessment of the HSW deployment policy even as she attributed the drastic decline to the strict approval of HSW job orders.
“I believe this is the right time for us to take a look at the impact of the new policy we implemented in January for the strict approval of HSW job orders only for employers who are compliant with international labor standards and the provisions of our employment contract, especially on the wages of our HSWs,” said Baldoz in a statement from Geneva, Switzerland where she is attending the 104th International Labor Conference.
Baldoz issued the directive following the report of Labor Attache Jainal Rasul, who is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that Saudi’s Labor Minister, Mufrej Al-Haqabani, will be meeting with officials from Kenya, Djibouti and Nepal purportedly to discuss agreements for the recruitment of domestic labor.
Rasul said in his report the move was to “expand options for Saudi citizens to recruit workers from these countries.”
He added that an official of a labor recruitment company in Saudi Arabia was quoted as saying that “the number of Filipino domestic workers in Saudi Arabia has reached more than four times the required level, with over 60,000 domestic workers recruited during 2014”, and that “having the Ministry of Labor open doors for recruitment of domestic workers from other countries would break the Philippine monopoly and reduce the high prices that came as a result.”
Baldoz said Saudi Arabia’s move may have a bearing on the country’s efforts to rationalize the deployment of HSWs to Saudi Arabia.
“The move of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to forge agreements with other source countries of domestic workers is welcome and we should take it in a positive light. It is a recognition by the Saudis that they should not be dependent on sourcing domestic workers from the Philippines alone, given the policy reforms we have been pursuing that seeks to rationalize the current volume and quality of deployment of Filipino domestic workers to the Kingdom, and which will in effect enable it to address the huge demand for Filipino domestic workers,” she explained.
“We do not have so much as a “monopoly” but rather a globally distinct resolve to push for, and constantly engage in bilateral discussions on, domestic worker protection, not only in Saudi Arabia, but in other countries as well.” WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL