MORE than 2 million domestic helpers must be smiling these days. This is so because President Aquino has finally signed into law Republic Act 10361 which protects the rights and privileges of domestic helpers and grants them with social and health benefits, among others.

Not only will they be assured of a fixed monthly salary and other health, social and leave benefits, but also, most importantly, protection against verbal or emotional abuses and exploitation.

In addition, household service workers or domestic helpers, such as housekeeper, yaya, cook, gardener, babysitter, family driver, and laundry woman, are also protected against unfair labor practices under the pain of stiffer fines and penalties against their abusive employers.

But this is not just for the benefits of these lowly household service workers. The law also safeguards the rights of their employers to terminate their services at any given time for misconduct, will disobedience, habitual neglect or inefficiency, fraud, and commission of crime.

Let us admit it that there are bad employers as there are also domestic helpers. We have heard so many stories where our kasambahay steals money or jewelries from us, and sometimes we feel helpless because we have entrusted them with our lives and safety not only of us but also of our children.

While we respect the dignity of our kasambahay, it is but fair that we should also exact some responsibility from them, especially in an ordinary Filipino household where kasambahays are treated like family members.

Even in some middle-class families, they even send their kasambahay to school because they also care for them and their future. They eat the same food we eat, bring them on vacation, and even enjoy almost the same amenities we may have at our homes.

That is why it is very important that we carefully choose whom we allow to live with us.

But while the law, for its intent and purposes, is good and laudable, much is left to be seen whether it would be implemented properly.

As they often said, the Philippines has many good laws, but at the end of the day, it is up to us and our authorities to see to it that it is implemented correctly and fairly.

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