Labor organizations demand “fair treatment” for POGO employees.
Labor organizations urged on Thursday that the Philippines should respect foreign workers, especially those employed by Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs), and assure the preservation of their human rights.
The Philippines, as a nation that wants fair and equal treatment for OFWs in their host countries, should apply the same approach to the rights of foreign workers, according to Nagkaisa chairperson Sonny Matula.
This followed news that Manila’s implementation of summary deportations against thousands of POGO employees, largely Chinese, for breaching immigration and other national laws, looming as a “humanitarian crisis.”
“We have been dealing with complex situations involving our displaced OFWs who were not afforded equal protection by their host nations for decades, and we continue to face this humanitarian crisis, which is larger than this one. As a result, he added in a statement we cannot deny other citizens the same rights that we seek from other countries.
As a signatory to United Nations (UN) conventions, the Philippines, according to the representative of the labor movement, has a duty to extend nondiscriminatory policies and, more crucially, timely protection and assistance for employees from other nationalities.
At the same time, Matula pointed out that the Department of Labor and Employers (DOLE), which is in charge of registration and work permit issuing to control the employment of foreign nationals under the Labor Code, needs to share responsibilities.
According to the labor movement, the most crucial component of such protection is avoiding criminalizing the victims because migrant workers frequently become the victims of onerous labor contracts or blatant trafficking by criminal groups, Matula said.
The labor group also requested the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to develop a comprehensive policy on this matter and incorporate labor organizations and migrant groups in that process.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has urged the government to ensure that workers in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) businesses have their basic human rights and labor rights respected and protected.
In a separate statement, Deputy Speaker Raymond Democrito Mendoza said, “TUCP asks our government to pay the utmost emphasis to the welfare of POGO workers in creating a policy response to the issue of POGO activities in the Philippines.”
He continued, “We have witnessed the appalling treatment of illegal and undocumented OFWs, and we have seen how extraordinarily susceptible our Filipino workers were, and are, in distant nations, to abuse and draconian punishment from governments that treated our OFWs as simple commodities.
There are 120,976 POGO employees nationwide, according to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) 2020 figures.
There are 69,613 Chinese, 3,000 Vietnamese, 2,400 Indonesians, 1,700 Taiwanese, 1,200 Malaysians, and the other people are from 44 other nations.
“Because we have sent millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and seafarers abroad, TUCP urges the government to give similar attention to the suffering of these foreign employees. In the same way that we demand decent treatment for our OFWs abroad, the government must ensure that these foreign POGO workers are treated properly, he said.
Mendoza emphasized that because 30,521 Filipino people are working for POGO companies, the government should do more to protect the human and labor rights of everyone legitimately employed in the Philippines.
“Let Filipinos now set an example for how foreign employees who may have been exploited or abused should be treated in our country: with respect for their human and labor rights, “added he.
At the same time, Luis Corral, vice president of TUCP, campaigned for a review of the POGO entry policy and for the DOLE to check all POGO businesses for compliance with labor laws in the Philippines, particularly those about workers’ rights and occupational health and safety.
The key to making POGO activities “transparent” is proactive labor inspection of all POGO worksites by the 700 Department of Labor and Employment Inspectors. We make POGOs “invisible” by preventing labor inspection of POGOs. The TUCP official continued, “Labor inspection should be present round-the-clock to protect foreign and Filipino POGO employees from abuses, exploitation, and criminality at the hands of shady operators and their protectors who flout our laws and regulations.
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