Legarda Hails Conviction of Demafelis’ Employers, Urges Kuwait to Ratify ILO Convention on Domestic Workers

April 3, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today welcomed the news of the conviction of the couple responsible for the death of Filipina domestic worker, Joanna Demafelis, as she urged the Kuwaiti Government to ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 or ILO Convention No. 189.

“The swift conviction of the employers of Joanna Demafelis is a most welcome development. However, the perpetrators are not yet under the custody of Kuwait. We hope that the Kuwaiti government would be able to get hold of the couple immediately so that the sentence may be carried out as well,” said Legarda.

“Moving forward, we also need to ensure that the rights and welfare of Filipinos, especially domestic workers, working in Kuwait and other nations are protected. As the Philippine government and Kuwaiti government are still working out on an agreement for the protection of Filipino workers in Kuwait, we hope that the Kuwaiti government would also ratify the ILO Convention 189 for the protection of domestic workers employed in their country,” she added.

Legarda, who sponsored the Senate Resolution that pushed for the Senate’s concurrence in the ratification of the ILO Convention 189 during the 15th Congress, said that the Convention primarily ensures that domestic workers are treated as legitimate workers, not slaves, and are accorded decent working conditions, just compensation and sufficient benefits.

The Convention encourages its signatories to set standards for employment agencies recruiting or placing domestic workers, in accordance with national laws, regulations and practice.

It also directs ratifying states to consider entering into bilateral, regional or multilateral agreements to prevent abuses and fraudulent practices in recruitment, placement, and employment of domestic workers.

The Philippine Senate’s concurrence in the ratification of ILO Convention 189 is historic as it paved the way for the treaty’s entry into force on September 5, 2013, one year after the Philippines’ ratification. To date, 25 countries have ratified the Convention.[1]

According to the ILO, Kuwait voted in favor of the ILO Domestic Workers Convention, 2011, “However, ratification of the Convention requires appropriate national legislation to implement its various elements.”[2]

“It is a fact that without our kasambahay or domestic workers, our economy and that of many others in Asia and the Middle East shall fall. Yet, the convenience they provide has made it too inconvenient for some to bestow these workers their basic rights. Domestic workers are not nameless persons. They have families whom they support. They work, just like us, but unlike us, many of them are denied their rights and are stripped of their dignity as a human being. Through the ILO Convention 189, we had hoped that this kind of injustice would end,” said Legarda.

“But we cannot solve this problem alone. We call on not only Kuwait but also the parliaments and foreign ministries of other nations, especially where there is a concentration of Filipino domestic workers, to ratify the ILO Convention 189. We should all acknowledge the contributions of our household heroes into the global workforce, no longer as invisible hands but as legitimate workers equipped with the rights and benefits accorded others,” Legarda concluded.***