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By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Mariana Variety, Dec. 21) - A senator is disappointed by the Philippine government’s move setting at US$400 a month the minimum wage of Filipinos hired as domestic helpers abroad.

Senate Vice President Pete P. Reyes, Ind.-Saipan, said the CNMI government should not allow foreign countries to set salaries of the migrant workers it hosts.

"We cannot allow foreign workers to set salaries in the CNMI. They cannot be dictating us," said Reyes during yesterday’s session.

The CNMI government, which controls its own labor and immigration system, sets at US$300 a month the minimum salary of foreign domestic helpers, farmers and similar positions.

Some domestic helpers work as much as 12 hours a day.

Reyes said the CNMI should hire maids in Thailand and other countries.

According to CNMI statistics, there are 1,670 Filipinos working as domestic helpers.

Some Filipino domestic helpers serve large families with as many as six or more children.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration implemented the new wage rate of US$400 a month for Filipino domestic helpers on December 16.

The new rule also covers caregivers, caretakers and low- or semi-skilled female workers who are deployed overseas.

Reyes said they have scheduled a meeting with the Philippine Consulate General’s office on Saipan to discuss the issue.

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