Jolovan Wham, a Social Worker at Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) and civil activist, wrote a Facebook post, saying that he assisted a domestic worker who was given a ticket to Manila despite the fact that she lives in Davao City.
Under Ministry of Manpower (MOM) regulation, the employer is to buy the domestic worker an air ticket to the international airport nearest to her hometown in her home country. Davao City has an international airport, Francisco Bangoy International Airport.
Wham was at Changi Airport with the woman on Friday (17 February) midnight, assisting to have her to not leave on the flight by communicating with the immigration authorities.
She had already cleared immigration by the time Mr Jolovan was there. He advised her to inform the immigration officer that she would like to go to the MOM the next day to resolve the issue, adding that she may also have a salary claim.
Mr Jolovan stressed that Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA)’s officers are supposed to legalise their stay.
However, he said that the officers discouraged her from filing the complaint and told her to email MOM when she returns to the Philippines.
“But what can MOM do once she returns?!” he asked.
Fortunately, the domestic worker was finally able to file a complaint.
Mr Jolovan said that the officers would not have allowed her to file a complaint at MOM if he had not intervened, saying, “I’m sure many other migrant workers have been discouraged and prevented from doing so by ICA.”
He added that they just learnt by that time that she was told to pack her things and knew about the only flight which was at 7 pm.
Mr Jolovan said that the domestic worker apparently quarrelled with her employer because she was not happy that her days off were split into two days, lasting five hours each.
He stated that in Singapore, it is perfectly legal even if a domestic worker’s day off is just 2 or 3 hours cos MOM leaves it to employers and workers to “negotiate” the duration.