OFWs back proposed Dep’t of OFW

EVEN the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) support the proposed Department of OFW.

This was established in the dialogue of Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles with the OFWs in the Middle East particularly in Abu Dhabi and United Arab Emirates.

Nograles’ visit to the region earlier this month coincided with Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani’s death.

With turmoil brewing in the Middle East the lawmaker highlighted the need to pass a bill creating a department for Overseas Filipino Workers soon to ensure the safety and security of Filipinos in the region.

“Recent events in the Middle East and the potential conflict that could arise from these emphasize the urgency of this bill. It’s not an exaggeration to say na nakasalalay ang kapakanan ng mga kababayan natin sa panukalang batas na ito,” Nograles said.

During the dialogue, the OFWs gave their inputs on the measure, which has been certified urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Nakipag-ugnayan tayo sa mga OFWs sa Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, upang alamin ang kanilang kalagayan at mga suliranin upang mas matugunan ng ating panukalang batas na Department of Filipinos Overseas Act ang kanilang mga pangangailangan,” Nograles added.

Nograles stressed that he particularly sought to be apprised of the nuances in cases of abuse and illegal recruitment to guarantee that the law can protect OFWs.

The lawmaker added that there had also been a policy debate on a provision in the proposed bill that could lead to a phaseout of the deployment abroad of household service workers.

The provision sets a five-year timeline for the government to ensure that only skilled and semi-skilled Filipino workers will be deployed after the deadline. Some experts have noted that the provision may not include household service workers (HSWs).

Nograles argued against the inclusion of such provision, saying that it could lead to more cases of OFW abuses.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed that of the 459,080 deployed new hires in 2017, about half or 251,349 are HSWs.

“HSWs are historically the most vulnerable among the OFW sector. Sila ang nabibiktima ng human trafficking at pang-abuso. Lalo pa’t hindi natin masisiguro na hindi na makikipagsapalaran ang mga kababayan natin sa kabila ng phaseout sa HSW deployment, mas mabuti kung magkaroon tayo ng probisyon na nagtitiyak na mabibigyan sila ng karampatang proteksiyon,” Nograles said.