BAGUIO CITY—Migrant workers and members of the Gabriela party-list group picketed the office of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration here on Thursday to demand that the government finally allow 18-year-old women to seek jobs abroad.
The new rules regulating overseas Filipino workers bar individuals, who are below 23 years old, from accepting overseas contracts.
The prohibition adjusted the 25-year-age ceiling imposed by previous rules, according to Delfina Camarillo, chief of the regional extension unit of the POEA-Cordillera.
“We already modified the age limit to 23 years old [based on the governing board Resolution No. 14 series of 2007 of the POEA]. But we still do not understand why we are still being criticized for this,” Camarillo said after conducting a dialogue with the OFWs.
Enforcing a prohibition against workers below 23 removes from them the opportunity to find work, said Flora Belinan, a nominee of Gabriela and former Cordillera coordinator of the Migrante party-list group.
Belinan said 18-year-old workers should be considered mature enough to travel and work abroad.
The age restriction compels workers and their recruitment agencies to fake their ages, she said.
“Setting a minimum age of 25 will only push recruitment agencies to falsify documents of Filipinos who want to seek jobs abroad,” she said.
According to her, the government has been unable to protect under-aged women from traveling abroad using fake passports.
On paper, a minimum age requirement for OFWs protects young women from abuse in other countries, said Vernie Yocogan-Diano, former chair of the Innabuyog-Gabriela.
“But with the poverty situation and [the] increasing unemployment rate in the country, many Filipinos will go to [all] lengths [including] faking their age just to [be able to] work in other countries,” she said.
“The [POEA] board feels that the maturity and vulnerability can adequately be addressed by adapting the age of 23 as a minimum limit, provided that adequate preparatory interventions are made by government,” according to Resolution No. 14. –Desiree Caluza, Inquirer