Honor OFWs as heroes - Abroad

August 29, 2019

OUR country’s modern-day heroes should be taken care of like heroes.   

This, according to the Alliance of Bonafide Recruiters for OFW’s Advancement and Development or ABROAD, is why it is stepping up efforts to assist the government in helping OFWs that have been displaced, as well as working with the Duterte Administration in pushing for the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (DOFW).

“We commemorate National Heroes Day every August to remind us of the heroism of those who sacrificed their lives for us, but we in ABROAD believe that we need to honor every day the sacrifices of OFWs, our modern-day heroes, as their contributions benefit the lives of millions of our countrymen,” said Cecile Francisco, Co-Convenor of ABROAD.

“The best way to honor their sacrifices -- and the sweat and tears they shed for their families and for our country -- is to ensure that their interest is promoted, their rights are protected, and their concerns are properly addressed,” added Francisco.

Imee Enriquez, also a Co-Convenor of ABROAD, revealed that two of their member-organizations -- the Organization of Placement Agencies of the Philippines (OPAP) and the Philippine Recruitment Agencies Accredited to Saudi Arabia (PRAASA) ––have recently coordinated with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and with another private industry group working for the interest of Household Service Workers (HSWs), to provide financial assistance to more than 100 distressed OFWs repatriated from Saudi Arabia.   

The repatriated OFWs, composed mostly of domestic workers who have left their abusive employers, had been staying for months at the Bahay Kalinga of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh.

“We are ready to extend assistance to the repatriated workers, including finding alternative employment for them abroad,” added Enriquez.

She further explained that the experience of the repatriated OFWs bolsters the case for the establishment of the DOFW, which the group supports.

ABROAD recently submitted its position paper on the DOFW to President Rodrigo Duterte through Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who met with ABROAD Convenors on August 23.

ABROAD Convenors led by Russell Garcia have also begun meeting with legislators from the House of Representatives to discuss issues pertaining to the DOFW. On Wednesday they met with Deputy Speakers Ferdinand Hernandez (2nd District, South Cotabato) and Luis Raymond “LRay” Villafuerte (2nd District, Camarines Sur) and submitted their position paper in productive meetings “that showed that there is universal concern and support for the creation of a DOFW.”   

In the same meeting with Deputy Speaker Villafuerte, the  chairman of the House Committee on Government  Reorganization Rep. Mario Vittorio A. Mariño (5th District, Batangas) voiced his appreciation for ABROAD’s support of various bills on the creation of the DOFW and urged its leaders to submit a comprehensive paper  to point out various provisions in the law and regulations that would further improve  government service delivery efficiency and put in place an effective mechanism that would truly protect the interests and welfare of OFWs.

“We will be meeting with other legislators in the days to come because we want to share our experience, inputs, and insights on how the DOFW can better serve our hardworking OFWs,” said Garcia.   

Meantime, pending the establishment of the DOFW, Nora Braganza, likewise a Co-Convenor of ABROAD, said that the coalition is already engaged in activities to help not only the OFWs and OFW-applicants, but also the licensed recruiters on better handling procedures concerning OFW-deployment and placement.   

Two member-organizations of ABROAD, Australia & New Zealand Association of Employment Providers of the Philippines (ANZAEPP) and the Japan Employment Providers of the Philippines & Consultants’ Association (JEPPCA), in partnership with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), have conducted a free seminar on safe migration process for more than a hundred job seekers in Camarines Sur.

The same ABROAD organizations also recently organized a learning program for recruitment agencies tackling topics like accounting errors, the Anti Red Tape Law/Ease of Doing Business Act, and POEA programs in relation to ease of doing business, including its newest Online Workers’ Monitoring System. Invited to speak to close to 200 learners were present officials of the POEA and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and a former Examiner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).   

“We should continue to help our OFWs as well as guide legitimate recruiters while we all wait for the DOFW to be established. Whatever help we could give, we should give. We are all in this together,” concluded Braganza.