Lawmaker wants to prosecute abusive foreign employers once they step into Philippine soil

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were victimized in other
countries can still seek justice from their oppressors under a bill
mandating the police and immigration authorities to arrest and
prosecute foreign employers as soon as they step into Philippine soil.

Rep. Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), author of House Bill
5501, said the bill seeks to promote the best interest of OFWs who
may have become victims of various forms of criminal acts that may
have been perpetuated by their foreign-based employers but which under
the country’s Revised Penal Code may be punishable.

“Maybe nothing by way of legislative action has yet been done that
addresses possibly fundamental limitation as it concerns
extra-territorial criminal jurisdiction where it now concerns an
important sector of Philippine society whom our government has tagged
as modern day heroes since they uplift our economy thru their dollar
remittances,” Castelo said.

Castelo said the bill to be known as the “Added Protection to
Overseas Filipino Workers Act of 2011” seeks to amend the provision on
extra-territorial criminal jurisdiction of the Revised Penal Code.

Castelo said the criminal offenses being committed by foreign
employers against OFWs will be included in Article 2 of the Revised
Penal Code, particularly the provision on extra-territorial criminal
jurisdiction. This provision has five specific criminal jurisdictions
at present.

“The arrest of the foreign employers when they are in the Philippines
is a great step for the country’s criminal justice system and sends
the government the signal and resolve to aid and help the country’s
overseas workers who experience or even suffer a lot of indignities
from foreign nationals with impunity,” Castelo said.

Castelo said under the bill, the legal process affecting the foreign
employers may reach into his or her assets which are within Philippine
territory.

Castelo said his measure sees beyond Article 2 of the Revised Penal
Code that defines the application of the provisions of the Code that
may have now been found to have been overtaken by contemporary
developments since the enactment of Republic Act No. 3815 or An Act
Revising the Penal Code and other Penal Laws in December 8, 1930.

A compelling article authored by a certain Merlin M. Magallona
entitled, “Options for Legislation” which appeared in Policy Options,
a journal published by Integritas, Inc. in its November 2010 issue
prompted Castelo to file the bill.

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