The meeting last week between Philippine Ambassador to Singapore, Antonio A. Morales and Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz was an occasion for the latter to discuss in detail with the former the progress of the reforms of the government, through the DOLE, to professionalize the ranks of household service workers; to provide them with stricter protection and enhanced welfare; and to raise their dignity as workers in the formal sector.
“It is still fresh in my mind the incident of our Household Service Workers being displayed and advertised like commodities in a mall in Singapore which I considered an affront to their dignity. So let us work together to present to foreign employers the better side of our HSWs—that they are well-trained and trainable, educated and responsible, honest and trustworthy, and thus, they also contribute to the socio-economic well-being of the countries where they work,” Baldoz told the Philippine envoy.
Noting that Lucky Plaza in Singapore is noted as a popular convergence destination of Filipinos during their off-days, Baldoz requested Ambassador Morales to assist the Philippine Overseas Labor Office to identify a location in Singapore where Filipino can spend their off-days more comfortably and productively.
“A wholesome venue ideal for meetings or training is what I have in mind. I also envision this for other destination countries like Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan,” Baldoz explained.
Last year, Baldoz instructed Philippine Labor Attache Vicente Cabe to explore the expansion of the available space at the Filipino Workers Resource Center, or Bahay Kalinga, to accommodate more productive activities and events for OFWs, and to fast-track the repatriation of distressed domestic workers so that the FWRC can be transformed into a center of care and excellence pursuant to President Benigno S. Aquino III’s thrust under his 22-point labor and employment agenda.
She also discussed with Ambassador Morales the DOLE’s ongoing efforts to align all POLO training with the skills assessment and certification program of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to increase and enhance the access of OFWs to higher level occupation and higher pay.
“I really hope we can fast-track this in Singapore. We have begun this in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where over 100 OFWs, including HSWs, have undergone skills assessment and certification on-site. Our next target this summer is Hong Kong and, hopefully, Singapore,” explained Baldoz.
She also revealed to the Ambassador that she is monitoring the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration’s compliance with to her earlier directive to develop and pursue the training module on transforming OFWs, particularly HSWs, to become ambassadors of goodwill. “This will imbue them with respect and high regard befitting OFWs,” she added.
In view of the implementation of the PADS, she also requested the Ambassador to develop a country-specific module for OFWs as Ambassadors of Goodwill to Singapore.