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Pinoy Abroad

‘PDOS does little to prepare OFWs for mental stress abroad’

September 11, 2008 6:45pm
Pre-Deployment Orientation Seminar for OFWs

The following are the requirements for the accreditation of the pre-departure orientation seminar program of agencies:

a) Content - the seminar should include discussions on the
following topics:

a.l Code of discipline for and obligation of Filipino workers overseas support for family, payment of taxes, forex remittances, etc.) at least one hour discussion.

a.2 Terms and Conditions of Employment (contract) - at least one hour discussion.

a.3 The Job-site or the vessel - thirty minutes discussion.

a.4. The Host Country: customs, practices , religion, social, economic and political system, labor laws and administration – at least two hours discussion.

a.5 Government Services to Workers Overseas (Embassy, consular offices, labor attache service, WELFUND, POEA, etc.) - at least thirty minutes discussion.

a.6 Travel tips - at least one hour discussion.

MANILA, Philippines - An officer from a migrant workers' group said the pre-deployment orientation seminar (PDOS), which could have sufficiently prepared a Filipino worker mentally, falls short of educating first-time overseas workers.

“The seminar is not sufficient to prepare them for overseas work. The objective is not met," Rhodora Abaño, advocacy officer of the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) told GMANews.TV on Thursday.

Abaño said the PDOS doesn’t equip aspiring overseas Filipino workers (OFW) with the knowledge of their basic rights as employees and as human beings. This, according to her, exposes OFWs to various forms of abuses from employers that later render them mentally unfit to work.

CMA receives a number of cases of distressed and abused OFWs from their SOS hotline, Abaño said. While the group has not yet finalized their report, CMA case officer Anna Navarro said most of the complainants are women in the Middle East.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that there were 178 cases of Filipinos deemed mentally unfit for work in the Middle East from 2006 to 2007.

Recently, the DFA proposed a mandatory psychological testing for outbound Filipino household service workers after receiving several complaints from officials in the Middle East.

Based on their report, aggravating factors such as work environment, cultural differences, language barriers, and emotional stress affect the mental health of OFWs.

Because of the increasing difficulty encountered by Filipino migrant workers, then Philippine Overseas Employment Agency administrator Patricia Sto. Tomas issued a memorandum implementing the PDOS in 1983.

Under the PDOS, all POEA-licensed agencies, construction contractors, manning agencies and entities were directed to conduct the seminar.

However, according to Abaño, most OFWs receive their own “PDOS" from neighbors and friends who psyche them up to try their luck abroad.

Ang sinasabi nila: ‘Kung kaya ng kumare ko, e ‘di kaya ko rin’ (Their mindset is usually: If my friend can do it, so can I)," she said. “This is not always a good way to prepare oneself for overseas employment,"

Abaño suggests that before first-time OFWs leave, they should be properly briefed about their labor and human rights as well as be given a complete picture of the culture, religion, and social norms in their country of destination.

Aside from these, the PDOS should also give the OFW the complete contact details of government agencies that they could call for help or assistance.

“But the bottom line is, the government should provide better job opportunities for Filipinos here so that they won’t leave," Abaño said.

“By adopting a psychological exam for migrant domestic helpers, the government is admitting that something is wrong with our Filipino workers when in fact they are merely victims of abuse that push them over the edge," she added. - GMANews.TV
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