Philippines to probe report of 'discount maids' in Singapore

MANILA - The Philippines is investigating reports that maids, including Filipinos, are being “put on display” at malls in Singapore.

In a news conference on Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippines “is ready to take all necessary steps to increase the protection of our overseas Filipino workers in Singapore”.

Mr Jose said the Philippine Overseas Labour Office can report the matter to the Singapore police "if reports of maltreatment and abuse are validated".

The Al Jazeera news organisation reported last week that some “maid agencies” were displaying maids from the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar in rooms and galleries at malls in Singapore.

The report mentioned two malls – Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and Katong Shopping Centre – that it said had rooms and galleries were dozens of women sit beneath “garish signs and posters testifying to their friendliness and industriousness” and offering their services at “super promo” rates and “special discounts”.

The action being taken by the foreign affairs department came after Vice-President Jejomar Binay called on the Philippine embassy to look into the Al Jazeera report.

Mr Binay, a former human rights lawyer, said if the report is true, “displaying” domestic workers in malls to be scrutinised by prospective employers “violates human rights and international laws upholding the rights of migrant workers”.

rdancel@sph.com.sg