ECMI backs inquiry on agreement with Saudi gov't
to cut OFW wages
MANILA, August 25 Ė The CBCP Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) has expressed support for a Congress resolution seeking a Senate
inquiry into an agreement entered into by the Philippine and Saudi Arabian governments, reducing the minimum wage for unskilled laborers.
Congress Resolution No. 407, filed by Sen. Manny Villar,
questions the agreement signed by Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas and the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, during a meeting with Saudi officials last May 25 to 28. The agreement cuts back the
minimum monthly wage of unskilled overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from US$200.00 to US$130.00. The agreement specifically states: "SANARCON and POEA agreed that the minimum wage of the unskilled worker must not be
less than the prescribed minimum wage of a non-agricultural worker in the National Capital Region of the Philippines."
In a statement released this month, Bishop Ramon C. Arguelles, ECMI chairman,
welcomed the call for a Senate inquiry, saying it will give a chance to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to explain its reasons for entering into such an agreement, which will obviously be to the
disadvantage of OFWs in Saudi Arabia.
Specifically, the ECMI seeks clarification from the Labor Department on the following points:
1. What are the specific and clear reasons for entering into such an agreement that will affect around half a million workers? Why should salaries be scaled down?
2. Is the
agreement in accordance with R.A. 8042, the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995?
3. Does the agreement favor the foreign employers of the Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) and their
4. What is the policy of the DOLE, or the Macapagal Administration: to deploy "modern-day heroes", but without paying any attention at all to salaries and working conditions? Which
comes first: deployment at any cost, or the dignity of our kababayans overseas and their families left behind?
5. If the DOLE's mandate is to promote and uphold the OFWs and their rights, did
the agency enter into such an agreement?