PCG chief defends blacklisting of employers

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Consul-General Bernardita Catalla and Dr. Law Chi-kwong, Labour Department secretary. (Photo from the Facebook page of the Philippine Consulate General)

CONSUL-General Bernardita Catalla has defended the practice of Philippine authorities to place erring employers on a watchlist or blacklist, saying the Hong Kong government was aware of this.

“We informed Hong Kong officials that we do this and we exchange information with the Indonesian Consulate.

“What I said was that they have their own list and we have our own list. If the Indonesian officials suspect that an employer has been blacklisted, they give us the name and we reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’, that’s all,” Catalla said.

She added that even if no court case has been filed against an employer, Philippine officials also look into the number of complaints filed against them by Filipino domestic workers.

“If in a year and a half, you have three helpers leaving you and filing a complaint, there’s a problem,” she said.

Catalla added that employers in the watchlist “will still have a day in court”.

“If they are in the watchlist, and they find that their papers are not processed, we ask them to come and explain their part. We told the officials of the Labour Department that,” she said.

Catalla and other Philippine Consulate officials met with Labour and Welfare Secretary Law Chi-Kwong and other Labour officials on Aug. 30.

As of the first half of the year, employers who were barred from hiring a Filipino domestic helper numbered 5,791, data from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office showed.

Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre said they have prepared a system that would allow it and the Indonesian Consulate to coordinate with each other to blacklist abusive and erring employers.

He said the system would put an end to the practice of abusive employers hiring Indonesian domestic workers when they are barred from hiring Filipinos and vice-versa. Employers in the blacklist were those whose workers filed a police report against them, particularly those involving complaints of maltreatment, and assault.

Catalla also raised the Filipino domestic helpers’ bid to be given the option to live out instead of staying in their employer’s residence. But Dr. Law said allowing the nearly 300,000 foreign domestic helpers to live out would worsen the housing squeeze.

Catalla said the mandatory live-in policy also gives rise to the long working hours of foreign domestic helpers.

She said many employers, especially the expats are not used to living with their helpers in their own home, but Law said they could not issue different rules for different groups of employers.

“Dr. Law said he recognizes the difficulty of monitoring such , but he said there’s only one regulation,” Catalla said.

She also cited cases of foreign domestic workers being made to sleep in the kitchen, under the dining table, rooftops or even in a bathtub, but the LD said they would step up their education campaign to address this concern.

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