Press Release
October 7, 2022


Senator Risa Hontiveros is calling on the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to install more support mechanisms for women migrant workers, especially pregnant employees, who experience gender-based violence by their employers and recruitment agencies.

The senator, who chairs the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said that women Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are often the targets of 'extensive violence'.

"There is an increase of employment of female migrant workers, particularly in gender-based occupations and sectors such as domestic work, entertainment, garments industry, and electronic assembly. We need stronger mechanisms to help protect them throughout the whole process, mula sa recruitment hanggang deployment at repatriation," Hontiveros said.

In the first budget hearing of the newly-established government agency, Hontiveros cited harrowing cases of Filipina domestic workers who were forced by their recruitment agencies to undergo abortion once their pregnancies were revealed.

"I'm just hoping and confident na DMW will look into the more detailed circumstances nito para maproteksyunan ang ating mga kababayan laban sa ganyang mga forced abortion," she stated.

In the 18th Congress, Hontiveros had exposed cases of forced abortion and human trafficking among women OFWs.

The senator extended help to an illegally trafficked female OFW who was forced by her agency to terminate her pregnancy before heading to war-torn Syria. Another female domestic worker in Saudi Arabia, Hontiveros said, also experienced the same fate.

"I would like to know, how equipped are our shelters abroad in caring for pregnant OFWs in situations of distress? Mayroon po ba tayong protective care para maituloy ang pregnancy? Doon naman sa natuloy na yung forced abortion, kaya ba siyang suportahan kung gusto niyang habulin ang hustisya laban sa kanyang recruitment agency o employer?" she asked.

During the hearing, the Senator also welcomed DMW's commitment to set up a special hotline that pregnant OFWs who are at a loss on what to do can call and seek help from.

Hontiveros also supported the move to increase the allocation of funds to the agency, pointing out that migrant workers deserve better services and support from the national government given their significant contribution to the domestic economy.

"Just for 2021, the remittances of our OFWs reached $34.8 billion, or P1.74 trillion. That's 20 percent of the total national government budget now being proposed under the current National Expenditure Program. And yet, the new department that is supposed to take care of our fellow Filipinos has to make do with a much smaller recommended budget," she said.

"Matagal nang nabibiktima ang mga kababayan natin dahil hindi natututukan ang kanilang kaligtasan. I am hopeful that this new department created for them can change that," Hontiveros concluded.

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