Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Times

The Philippine government has been urged to build a statue to honor the 2.5 million overseas Filipino workers, particularly domestic workers, as they remitted about US$3 billion back to the country last year while some of them were facing abuse or exploitation.

In a commentary titled “A huge statue for our women” published in the Manila Bulletin on Sunday, columnist Floro Mercene wrote that poverty in the Philippines was what drove Filipino women to work abroad in order to provide a better life for their families. He also said their sacrifices were what kept the economy growing.

However, many domestic workers are faced with abuse in their host countries, especially in the Middle East. Some maids are physically and sexually abused, but most of their cases are ignored. As well, Mercene noted, some domestic workers were victims of human-trafficking cases.

From 2008 to 2017, about 150,000 domestic workers were trafficked to Lebanon, Syria and the United Arab Emirates by illegal recruitment syndicates, he wrote.

The sacrifices of Filipino women have helped in the growth of the Philippine economy. Mercene called on the government to repay their priceless labor by building a statue in a highly visible public square.

“No amount of gratuitous award by the government is enough to make up for their sacrifices,” he said.

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