A stronger and more cohesive protection for domestic helpers in the country is now assured following the signing of a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) on rescue and rehabilitation of abused kasambahay by the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, and the National Bureau of Investigation.
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz announced this over the weekend, saying the joint efforts of the DOLE, DSWD, DILG, PNP, and NBI in coming up with a mechanism further protects domestic workers under RA 10361.
“This is a leap forward in our work for our domestic workers whose welfare and protection we have pursued in several developmental laws and agreements, such as the ratification of International Labor Organization Domestic Workers’ Convention, or Convention 189, and the enactment of Republic Act 10361, or the Kasambahay Law,” Baldoz said.
Under the JMC, the DSWD, through the municipal or city social welfare officer, in coordination with concerned barangay officials who are under the DILG’s supervision, take charge of the rescue and rehabilitation of abused kasambahay, while the DOLE oversees their job placement.
The goal of the JMC is to set in place a more unified inter-agency network to protect the rights of kasambahay against abuse, harassment, violence, and economic exploitation.
The JMC provides that any act of abuse committed against a kasambahay can be reported to authorities by the offended kasambahay themselves, their parents, or guardians, including relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity; DSWD social workers, law enforcement officers from the PNP’s Women and Children Protection Desk; barangay officials; or even a lawyer, counselor, therapist, or health care provider of the offended kasambahay.
“Even at least two concerned citizens in the community where the abuse occurred and who has personal knowledge of the offense committed, or government officials and employees, can report the abuse and call for their rescue. That’s how we have intensified the protection to this vulnerable sector in our labor force,” Baldoz added.
The labor chief recalled that immediately upon the effectivity of the implementing rules and regulations of Batas Kasambahay on 4 June 2013, the DOLE had set in place the mechanisms to operationalize the provisions of the law and its implementing rules and regulations.
The DOLE, she said, is committed to assist in all the stages of the conduct of rescue operations, particularly in facilitating the settlement or disposition of labor-related disputes and the provision of alternative livelihood or employment for rescued kasambahay.
“Our primary objective was how to mainstream kasambahay concerns into our labor dispute mechanisms. For this, we have designated Kasambahay Desk Officers in all DOLE regional offices to attend to kasambahay complaints using the Single Entry Approach, a DOLE reform measure – now also a law – to effect faster, fairer, and inexpensive settlement of labor issues. We have established other related mechanisms on the employment of kasambahay, such as wage setting, occupational safety and health, and recruitment regulations to ensure that pertinent provisions of the law are complied with,” Baldoz explained.
She also said the DOLE had revised its Rules and Regulations Governing Recruitment and Placement for Local Employment to incorporate the roles and responsibilities of private employment agencies under the law, especially in assisting the kasambahay in the filing of complaints and cooperating with government agencies in rescue operations.
The joint memorandum circular enjoins all governors, city and municipal mayors, punong barangay, presiding officers of the Sanggunian, regional directors and field officers of DOLE, DILG, DSWD, PNP, NBI and other concerned agencies and organizations to enforce the protocol on kasambahay rescue and rehabilitation.
The mistreatment committed against a kasambahay may be in the form of physical, sexual, and psychological harm or economic abuse, which includes withholding of wages or part of it, or any act which induce the kasambahay to give up any part of the wage by force, stealth, intimidation, threat or by any other unlawful means.
Rescued kasambahay will be provided with temporary shelter; counseling; legal, medical or psychosocial services; livelihood and skills training, and job placement.
The JMC also stipulates that LGUs may opt to use the annual five percent of their Gender and Development (GAD) budget, or any other local fund source, in rescuing and rehabilitating abused kasambahay, as well as in carrying out capability-building programs at the local level, subject to existing laws, rules and regulations on gender and development.