Senate panel wants criminal liability vs. abusive employers specified in Kasambahay Law

AMID ELVIE VERGARA CASE

Published November 24, 2023 11:41am

The Senate committee on justice and human rights has recommended amending Republic Act 10361 or the Kasambahay Law by specifying criminal liabilities against abusive employers.

The Senate panel made the recommendation after it concluded its probe on the case of Elvie Vergara who was allegedly abused by her employers.

To further strengthen RA 10361, the Senate committee wants to “provide for specific criminal liability for abusive employers with corresponding penalties for any death or physical injuries sustained by the Kasambahay resulting from, or sustained in the course of his or her employment.”

The committee explained that the current version of the law does not contain any specific penal provisions in case of death or physical injuries of the household helpers. Rather, it refers to the cases under the  Revised Penal Code and it only provides for fines ranging from P10,000 to P40,000 for violations of the law.

By specifying the criminal liability and penalty of abusive employers, the Senate panel said this “will greatly caution employers from committing any kind of abuse against their helpers.”

The committee seeks to increase the fine from P100,000 but not more than P250,000 for any employer who shall willfully or negligently violate the provisions of the Kasambahay Law without prejudice to the filing of appropriate civil or criminal action.

It added any employer or any relative or member of the household of said employer who shall directly or indirectly subject a domestic worker or kasambahay to any form of abuse, physical violence, or harassment shall face the following:

If no injury was caused, or only minor injuries were caused, the penalty of imprisonment ranging from six months and one day to four years and two months and a fine not less than P250,000.00 but not more than P500,000.00. If by reason or on the occasion of such abuse, physical violence or harassment inflicted, the kasambahay shall have become deformed, or shall have lost any body part, or shall have lost the use thereof, the employer or member of the household responsible for the same shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from four years, two months and one day to eight years and a fine not less than P1,000,000.00 but not more than P2,000,000.00 shall be imposed. If by reason or on the occasion of such abuse, physical violence or harassment inflicted, the kasambahay shall become insane, imbecile, impotent, or blind, the employer or member of the household responsible for the same shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment for eight years and one day to 12 years and a fine not less than P2,000,000.00 but not more than P4,000,000.00 shall be imposed. If by reason or on the occasion of the said abuse, physical violence or harassment inflicted, the kasambahay died, the penalty of imprisonment of 12 years and one day to 20 years and a fine not lower than P5,000,000.00 shall be imposed.

The committee also recommends administrative charges and a fine ranging P100,000 to P250,000 for any national or local government official or employee who fails to take appropriate action on reported or suspected cases of kasambahay abuse.

Other recommendations made by the Senate panel are:

Establishment of a Kasambahay Registry Creation of a Kasambahay Help Desk or Hotline in every barangay hall, municipal or city hall, and in every municipal, city, or regional offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Labor and Employment. Revisit of roles of the Philippine National Police Women’s Desk

The Senate panel also called on the DSWD, DOLE, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Justice, Commission on Human Rights and other involved agencies of the government to strengthen their coordination, through up-to-date agreements and memoranda pertaining to the monitoring of kasambahays in order to strictly enforce and implement RA 10361.

“As our kasambahays uplift our lives through diligent service and care, it is imperative that we take action and do our part in protecting their rights and treating them with the dignity that they deserve,” the committee report read.—AOL, GMA Integrated News

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