Sep 282014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/12/06MANILA5007.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MANILA5007 2006-12-15 05:42 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO5868
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #5007/01 3490542
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 150542Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4284
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEAHLC/DHS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 005007

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/RSP, DRL/IL MMITTELHAUSER, G/TIP
SNEUMANN, DEPT OF LABOR FOR ILAB GSCHOEPFLE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/12/2016
TAGS: ELAB KCRM KTIA PHUM RP
SUBJECT: GRP UNVEILS MAJOR ANTI-TRAFFICKING INITIATIVE FOR OVERSEAS HOUSEHOLD WORKERS

REF: KUWAIT 4649

Classified By: Scott D. Bellard for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (SBU) Summary: The Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration (POEA) recently issued new employment
requirements designed to better protect overseas Filipino
household workers from trafficking. Among other measures,
the new requirements increase the monthly minimum wage from
$200 to $400 and raise the minimum age from 18 to 25. While
officials publicly state that the new rules are necessary to
reduce the damage to the family structure of overseas
household workers, POEA officials privately indicate the
actual intent is to protect household workers from widespread
employer abuse and trafficking in persons. POEA officials
estimate the measures will result in a reduction of up to
$432 million in remittances annually, but have determined
that the benefits to Filipino workers outweigh the costs.
The GRP initiative is a positive step that may significantly
reduce the number of Filipino trafficking victims overseas.
End Summary.

¶2. (SBU) Stella Banawis, Director of Pre-Employment Services
at POEA, the office responsible for issuing overseas worker
requirements, told Poloff December 13 that the POEA Governing
Board, an interagency board chaired by the Secretary of
Labor, had adopted new measures to significantly reduce the
number of Filipino household workers going overseas,
currently estimated at 80,000 annually. In addition to the
minimum wage increase and higher minimum age requirements,
the new rules also provide that:

– Placement costs, typically one-month’s salary, will no
longer be charged to the employee;

– Household workers will be required to secure a Certificate
of Competency issued by the Technical Education and Skills
Development Authority (TESDA) to attest to their skills;

– Household workers will be required to attend a
country-specific language and culture orientation course
conducted by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration;

– Foreign placement agencies and employers will be required
to submit employment contracts for verification of compliance
to Philippine Overseas Labor Offices;

– Requirements take effect December 16 and immediately apply
to new household workers; requirements will apply to current
household workers upon renewal of contract.

¶3. (C) Banawis claims the measures were necessary because
while household workers account for approximately 10 percent
of all overseas workers, they represent 90 percent of all
complaints to Filipino labor attaches worldwide. The
complaints range from verbal abuse to rape and, in some
cases, trafficking for prostitution. Though Banawis was
unable to provide concrete data, she alleged that the problem
is particularly severe in the Middle East, where “several”
abused Filipino women commit suicide every year. According
to Banawis, POEA officials believe the problem to be so
serious that they sought to bar overseas employment of
household workers altogether. However, fear that some
countries would retaliate by barring all Filipino overseas
workers, including highly-paid professionals, prevented them
from issuance of a total ban. Banawis, a lifelong POEA
employee, claims the Philippines tried an outright ban for
household workers in the 1990’s but rescinded it after Saudi
Arabia responded with an outright ban on all Filipino workers.

¶4. (C) Although the minimum wage for overseas household
workers is currently — and has been for over 20 years —
$200 per month, many are actually paid less, particularly in
the Middle East. It is a common practice for employers to
illegally deduct room and board from salaries, and wages are
typically $150 per month or less. The practice is so
widespread that household workers often leave the Philippines
fully cognizant that their wages will be lower than the
required minimum (reftel). In addition, recruiters generally
garner at least one month’s wages as their standard fee,
leaving the worker little to send home. According to
Banawis, a substantial number of household workers are not
paid at all. Though Banawis produced no concrete evidence,
she offered anecdotal information that significant numbers of
Filipino household workers are subjected to trafficking for

MANILA 00005007 002 OF 002

prostitution.

¶5. (SBU) While wages tend to be lower in the Middle East,
other countries, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Israel, and
Canada pay significantly higher — in many cases well over
the new $400 monthly minimum. Thus, the overall average
monthly remittance is approximately $150 per household
worker. POEA officials calculate that the estimated 300,000
Filipino household workers worldwide account for
approximately $540 million annually in remittances to the
Philippines. They preliminarily estimate that the measures
will result in a 60-80 percent reduction in the total number
of overseas household workers, with a corresponding decrease
of $324-432 million in annual remittances. Given that an
average of only 50 household workers are deployed to the U.S.
each year, the new requirements will have no effect on U.S.
remittances to the Philippines.

¶6. (SBU) Comment: The new GRP initiative is a step in the
right direction that may significantly reduce the number of
Filipino household workers induced or coerced into
prostitution worldwide. The GRP has justifiably targeted the
occupation most at risk and, because the potential for
trafficking is greatest in locations where wages are lowest,
the impact of the new requirements will be greatest precisely
where it is needed most. Conversely, the new measures will
have no impact in countries like Israel and Canada, where
wages are already considerably higher than the new minimum
salary, and where cases of trafficking are rare.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/
KENNEY

   

 

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