Press Release
May 11, 2021

Hontiveros pushes for more protection for OFWs, particularly women, amid COVID-19

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday urged the government to strengthen support for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), particularly for female migrant workers affected by COVID-19.

"Women migrant workers face a whole new set of challenges due to the onslaught of the pandemic. Maaring bumalik sa Pilipinas nang wala sa oras, kaya biglaang nawalan ng kita at kabuhayan. Maaring nasa ibang bansa pa, pero hindi pala nasusustentuhan ng amo. We need to extend every hand we can to our women," Hontiveros said.

There are 8.5 million women migrant domestic workers who have insecure contracts. The senator said this may result in an immediate loss of livelihood due to the limited coverage by labor laws and the shutdowns of migrant support services in the host country.

"Aside from being vulnerable to job loss, women are also more prone to abuse and sexual harassment since they cannot leave their employers due to travel restrictions. They also lack access to social protection, healthcare, and maternity protection. Patong-patong ang pasakit ng ating kababaihan. Dapat matulungan nating gumaan ang bitbit nila," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros added that government should also lead vaccination programs especially for returning OFWs. The senator shared that in the latest Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Advisory in April 2020, there were 517 confirmed COVID-19 cases of Filipino migrant women workers in over 33 countries, with the highest percentage coming from the European region. This reflects an increase of 11% in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported from around the world.

"Our Filipino migrant women workers have also been found to be at risk of COVID-19 infection. Marami sa ating mga kababayan sa ibang bansa ay mga frontliner din. Karamihan sa kanila ay mga breadwinner pa. Kung magkasakit itong OFW, hindi lang siya ang naapektuhan, kundi ang buong pamilyang naiwan sa Pilipinas," Hontiveros said.

During the Senate Committee on Women hearing, the senator also released videos of cramped conditions in our embassy's shelter in Riyadh, exposing the dire conditions many Filipino women face even when in Philippine custody.

"Our government needs to immediately address the grievances and needs of our kababayans. Ayusin natin ang serbisyong binibigay natin sa kanila at huwag nating hayaang magdusa silang mag-isa sa ibang bansa. Iparamdam natin na kahit milya ang layo nila, sila ay ganap na ligtas at protektado," Hontiveros concluded.

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