Editorial | Act now

THE CASE of Joanna Demafelis has put the country on the edge as far as the conditions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are concerned.

The body of Demafelis, 29, just arrived from Kuwait after it was found inside a freezer after she was beaten to death, based on the autopsy report.

President Rodrigo Duterte visited the victim’s wake yesterday as the national government has continued to help the family.

But the case of Demafelis was not new as several other OFWs before her suffered a similar fate with the most prominent one being the case of Flor Contemplacion in1995 when she was hanged to death in Singapore for the death of her ward.

The Contemplacion story even angered then mayor, now President, Rodrigo Duterte that without hesitation, he burned the Singaporean flag that resulted in a diplomatic protest from Singapore. It was only in 2016 after winning the presidency that Mr. Duterte decided to visit the island state.

Despite these incidents, and despite the fact that OFWs contribute a large amount of money to the country – the World Bank estimated the sector contributed $33 billion to the economy of the country – there are still lapses in policy on the part of government in addressing the concerns of OFWs.

For example, many Filipinos are allowed to leave the country on the pretext of being tourists, even if the real goal is for them to look for jobs. It is easier for government agencies to detect this because it is very obvious when one is looking for job than visiting a foreign country as a tourist.

Another huge problem is providing licenses to recruiters, companies and people who oftentimes circumvent the law and sacrifice their fellow Filipinos for a few wads of crispy bills.

There is no reason for saying it is time for government to come up with key policies because the time should have been the other day. But there is still so much to do, so the authorities might as well do it now.

Otherwise Demafelis would not be the last victim.

Posted in Opinion