Distressed OFWs

August 25, 2019

LAST Friday’s arrival of 117 more distressed migrant Filipino workers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has thrust out front anew the need to review the country’s overseas employment program.

Even those seeking the continued export of our workers, whose dollar remittances help prop up the economy, concede that there are still problems plaguing the manpower export industry.

The timing of the repatriation of the problematic overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), all of them women, from the oil-rich Middle East country could not have been more timely, according to observers.

The repatriates had been staying for months at the “Bahay Kalinga” of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh, KSA. Most of them ran away from their employers.

All of them received immediate assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment under Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III.

Note that there’s now a snowballing move in Congress, supported by no less than President Duterte and his administration, to establish a new department for the country’s millions of overseas workers.

The Coalition of Licensed Agencies for Domestic and Service Workers (CLADS) and the Overseas Placement Association of the Philippines (OPAP) support the creation of the proposed department.

“We are fully behind President Duterte in according better protection for our overseas workers through the proposed new department,” according to CLADS president Lucila Sermonia.

Among those batting for the setting up of the proposed department are House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and his wife Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez.

Indeed, the Romualdezes belong to a group of well-meaning lawmakers championing the rights of members of the working class, who are the creators of wealth in society.

We believe, like the rest of the Filipino people, that the proposed new department should be able to stand up for the welfare of our growing army of migrant workers.