After 18 years of relentless campaigns, the landmark legislation known as the Domestic Workers’ Act or Republic Act 10361: An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers was passed by the Congress in the last months of 2012 and signed by the President of the Republic, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III on January 18, this year.
“We are elated at the news and excited at what this can translate into for the millions of Domestic Workers in the country” said Ma. Cecilia Flores – Oebanda, President of Visayan Forum Foundation Inc., the leading organization who pioneered campaigns in the country for the rights of domestic workers, hand in hand with the Samahan at Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawang Pantahanan sa Pilipinas (SUMAPI) and other partners. “This is a victory for all domestic workers, and we congratulate them as much as we encourage them to know the law because only then can the law serve its purpose – to protect and promote the welfare of domestic workers”, she added.
Visayan Forum is known for its more than 20 years of innovative work to end modern – day slavery. Despite the crisis that the organization is embroiled in, the organization has not abandoned its commitment to policies that promote decent rights for domestic workers, and anti-human trafficking.
Batas Kasambahay requires both employer and the domestic worker to execute a contract of employment, thereby effectively protecting both parties. It not only sets the minimum wage of a domestic worker, it also ensures that they are duly registered by their employers in social benefit systems such as SSS, Pag-Ibig, and PhilHealth. It also protects the right of a domestic worker to access educational opportunities. Further, the law enjoins the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards to adjust the minimum wage rates accordingly, after the Law’s first year of effectivity.
Apart from debt bondage, the law also declares some acts as unlawful especially those that take advantage of a domestic workers’ vulnerability, promote harsh conditions of work, and interferes with the worker’s right to his or her wage.
“We thank the President for signing Batas Kasambahay, the Vice-President for his staunch support, the Senators Jingoy Estrada and Loren Legarda, and Congressmen Jack Enrile and Emil Ong, who have joined our cause and passed this law, and all of the organizations and individuals who have contributed to this victory”, Cecilia said.
“We have lobbied for the Batas Kasambahay for more than 18 years, we have earned the ire of numerous individuals and groups, we broke down walls for this law, and we will not stop at its promulgation”, Cecilia shared. Visayan Forum intends to go to the Regions to help popularize the Law and educate stakeholders. It will also intensify its vigilance efforts and help ensure that the Law is effectively upheld, and as such VF will actively participate in the formulation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Law.
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