A Resolution Expressing Opposition to the Proposed
MANDATORY PSYCHIATRIC EXAMINATION
For Household Service Workers
WHEREAS, the Consultative Council on Overseas Filipino Workers (CCOFW)
was created in view of the State’s recognition of non-government organizations and other
civil society groups and the private sector as development partners;
WHEREAS, the government and the development partners need to consult each on a regular basis on matters concerning OFWs;
WHEREAS, the Council was created to serve as a regular consultative forum on all issues and concerns affecting overseas Filipino workers;
WHEREAS, the CCOFW is supposed to serve as a regular feedback mechanism on current public policies, programs and services here and abroad;
WHEREAS, the existence of the overseas employment program is said to rest solely on the assurance that the dignity and fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Filipino citizens shall not, at any time, be compromised or violated;
WHEREAS, the state has committed, as a matter of public policy, to uphold the dignity of its citizens whether in the country or overseas, in general, and Filipino Migrant Workers, in particular;
WHEREAS, the Department of Foreign Affairs has recommended the implementation of a mandatory psychiatric examination for household service workers;
NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, to express the Council’s opposition to the proposed mandatory psychiatric examination for OFWs who are household service workers, considering the following reasons:
(1.) This mandatory psychiatric exam is tantamount to saying that the root of the problem is in the workers’ psychiatric disposition which is an unfounded and illogical presumption;
• Sound psychiatric test results of a worker cannot guarantee one’s sanity because there are simply too many aggravating factors such as work environment, cultural differences, language barriers, and emotional stress that affect OFWs’ physical and mental conditions.
• Data shows that it is in the Middle East where most (or 78%) of the household service workers who later on were found to be mentally unfit were deployed; thus indicating that what is needed is for the government to look at the working conditions in the Middle East of the household service workers, and not these workers’ mental states;
(2.) What the government ought to do is to provide more local employment opportunities as alternative to overseas employment, especially for women and other vulnerable groups and to review the deployment policies in countries where HSWs are regularly harassed and exploited.
(3.) There is already a costly requirement for medical testing which includes psychological tests to ascertain that OFWs are in the pink of health before deployment. Regarding this testing, there is an urgent need to regulate and monitor the application of fees by the accredited medical centers in order to avoid the abuses that are frequently reported by OFWs.
4.) Psychiatric exams only for household service workers is discriminatory, as not all OFWs are to be subjected to such tests;
(5.) Facilities for testing are only in Manila; thus, more time and money will be wasted for the proposed mandatory psychiatric exams, without any guarantee as to the objectivity of these tests;
(6.) Mandatory psychiatric examinations should be administered, instead to all government personnel deployed overseas, to determine their psychological and emotional preparation for overseas assignments, particularly, in handling cases of workers in distress;
(7.) Stricter regulations and monitoring of accredited clinics and hospitals to ensure quality of medical examination, as well as other strategies, rather than mandatory psychiatric exam is the solution to the problem of incidence of mentally unfit workers;
(8.) No less than the State itself has made it a clear public policy; that the “State recognizes that the ultimate protection to all migrant workers is the possession of skills, thus, making the mandatory psychiatric exam a mere redundancy.
RESOLVED FURTHER, That copies of this resolution be furnished, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the POEA, and the Office of the President.
Done this 6th day of August 2008, at Mandaluyong City.
FR. SAVINO BERNARDI
APOSTLESHIP OF THE SEA (AOS)
FR. EDWIN CORROS
LUIS ANDRES MAYA
SCALARINI CENTER FOR PEOPLE
ON THE MOVE (SCPM)
FR. FABIO BAGGIO
SCALABRINI MIGRATION CENTER (SMC)
PHILIPPINE MIGRANTS RIGHTS
MA. EDIZA A. PUMARADA
SCALARINI LAY ASSOCIATION (SLA)
CARMELITA G. NUQUI
DEVELOPMENT ACTION FOR WOMEN
CENTER FOR MIGRANT ADVOCACY(CMA)
GINA S. ESPINOSA
MA. FE P. NICODEMUS
FRANCISCO S. AGUILAR, JR.
FIL MIGRANT WORKERS GROUP
MILDRED YAMZON/DR. GLORIA ITCHON
WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION
SR. M. BERNADETTE C. GUZMAN, RGS
CENTER FOR OVERSEAS WORKERS (COW)
LUTHER Z. CALDERON
MALU S. MARIN
UGAT FOUNDATION, INC.