The Taipei 101 building in Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

A Filipino advocate revealed some common exploitative conditions endured by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Taiwan in his column on Manila Bulletin on Monday, urging the Philippine government to step up efforts to protect its nationals working overseas.

Tonyo Cruz highlighted some of the far-from-satisfactory conditions facing Filipinos working in Taiwan, most of whom were employed as fishermen, caretakers, or factory and construction workers with low wages but high employer demands.

A Filipino father of three who went to Taiwan to work as a fisherman to improve his family’s income was forced to labor from 4am to 6pm every day. He was given the first meal of the day at 1:30pm, and there was no mention of whether he could have any other proper meals throughout the day, Cruz reported.

Caretakers are given better accommodations in general, he noted, because they live in their employers’ homes. However, they are forced to do a lot more than domestic chores. What is more worrying is that it is not uncommon for malicious bosses to direct crass or coercive sexual behavior toward vulnerable live-in maids.

Factory and construction workers who take on the same duties as their Taiwanese peers cannot enjoy the same benefits.

According to Cruz, the government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte should reorient the “informal” embassy in Taiwan, known officially as the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, by strengthening its role in safeguarding labor rights and benefits of Filipino workers on the island.

At the very least, he said, the Philippine government should require brokers and employers to shoulder OFWs’ board and lodging expenses, as Indonesian nationals have been freed of such charges with the assistance of their government.

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