MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Nancy Binay wanted more teeth to existing laws that would strengthen the powers of the government in dealing with unscrupulous public officials who prey on distressed migrant workers.
Article 2 of the Revised Penal Code states that sanctions will be “enforced not only within the Philippine Archipelago, including its atmosphere, its interior waters and maritime zone, but also outside its jurisdiction, against those who while being public officers or employees, should commit an offense in the exercise of their functions.”
But Binay expressed “serious doubt” whether the Revised Penal Code’s extraterritorial effect can protect migrant workers from erring government officials assigned abroad.
In Senate Bill No. 2068 or “An act enhancing protection for overseas Filipino workers in the custody of government officers/employees, amending for this purpose Republic Act 8042”, the lady senator is seeking a law that will cover those who are stationed outside the Philippines.
Case in point was the recent sex-for-flight scandal wherein government officials stationed abroad to serve OFWs themselves where linked to various abuses.
“Nakakalungkot na kung sino pa ang mga inatasan ng gobyerno na magtanggol at tumulong sa ating mga kababayan ay siya pang umaabuso sa kanila,” lamented Binay whose proposed legislation seeks to include Section 8-A to RA 8042 otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.
Under the said provision, officials or employees of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and other government agencies stationed abroad who commit violations to any of the following laws while in charge of the custody of distressed migrant workers will be criminally prosecuted in the Philippines:
- Republic Act 7610 or the “Special protection of children against child abuse, exploitation and discrimination act”;
- Republic Act 9262 or the “Anti-violence against women and children act”;
- Republic Act 9208 or the “Anti-trafficking in persons act of 2003”;
- Republic Act 9710 or the “Magna Carta of Women”;
- Republic Act 7877 or the “Anti-sexual harassment act of 1995”; or
- Republic Act 8353 of the “Anti-rape law of 1997”.
“There is a strong need to protect our overseas Filipino workers from enterprising and vicious government officials out to abuse them at a time when they are most vulnerable. Napakaraming sakripisyo ng ating mga kababayan sa ibang bansa kaya naman nararapat at napapanahon nang palakasin natin ang mga batas na naglalayong bigyan sila ng proteksyon laban sa pang-aabuso” said Binay. (MNS)