Duterte signed “A Handbook for OFWs Act of 2018” or Republic Act 11227 on Feb. 22, 2019 and a copy of which was released to media on March 2.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III welcomed the signing of the law, describing the handbook as a “shield” from abuses OFWs may encounter from employers abroad.
“The signing of the law (RA 11227) affirms the government's policy in continuously developing our human resource and providing adequate protection to our Filipino workers especially the OFWs during the full cycle of migration from recruitment, deployment to reintegration,” Bello told PNA in a text message.
“The handbook arms our OFWs of their rights and privileges, clarifies their responsibilities and shield them from abuses and fraudulent schemes,” he added.
Under the law, the handbook, should serve as a reference to make migrant workers fully aware of their rights and responsibilities and provide basic information on the labor and living conditions in the country of their destination.
It should also make the workers well aware of the benefits and drawbacks of working overseas, and provide necessary information for their reintegration into the Philippine society.
Moreover, the handbook should be written in simple words that can be easily understood with translation in local language as may be necessary and offered to all OFWs free of charge.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the law explains, shall see to it that labor and social welfare laws in the foreign countries are fairly applied to migrant workers.
On the other hand, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) shall inform migrant workers not only of their rights as workers but also of their rights as human beings.
"The Administration is hereby mandated to develop, publish, disseminate and update periodically a Handbook on the rights and responsibilities of migrant workers as provided by Philippine laws and the existing labor and social laws of the countries of destination that will protect and guarantee the rights of migrant workers,” the law reads.
The administration should be responsible for the implementation, in partnership with other law enforcement agencies, of an intensified program against illegal recruitment activities.
The DOLE and POEA are tasked to implement the law in coordination with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Foreign Affairs, Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, Commission on Filipinos Overseas and Maritime Industry Authority.
The act is a consolidation of Senate Bill 192 and House Bill 8110 passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on Dec. 11, 2018 and Dec. 12, 2018, respectively.
It must take effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette and in at least one newspaper of general circulation.