AS many overseas Filipino workers (OFW) continue to arrive in the country to be with their families during the Christmas season, former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go renewed calls for the creation of a Department solely for OFW concerns.
Go noted that while many government agencies provide their respective kind of service to the OFWs, it has the unfortunate effect of making the process more complicated and causing confusion among our “modern day heroes.”
“Mas gusto ko po ngayon na magkaroon ng Department of OFW, kasi marami po lumalapit sa opisina namin dati at hanggang ngayon na private citizen na ako,” Go said in an ambush interview Wednesday after visiting fire victims in Barangay Guadalupe Viejo in Makati City.
“Hindi nila alam kung saan sila lalapit o sino ang tatawagan nila, katulad na lamang kung sa DFA ba sila lalapit o lalapit ba sila sa POEA, sa OWWA o sa DOLE,” he added.
As a result, Go said there is a growing trend where many distressed OFWs seek help by posting their predicament on Facebook or other social media platforms because they have no idea which agency they should approach for help in their particular situation.
“Kapag mayroon na po tayong Department of OFW, iisa na lamang ang lalapitan nila at ito na po ‘yung makikipag coordinate sa Embassy, coordinate sa OWWA, sa POEA kung illegal recruiter po ang kumuha sa kanila at tsaka may sariling budget din ang DFA para sa pag-papauwi,” said Go, who is running for senator in the 2019 elections.
Go noted that just recently he assisted several male OFWs in Kuwait who were hired as masseurs but fell ill after suffering from abuse.
“Ni-recruit sila as masahista, pagdating doon pinag-trabaho po ng extra service, inabuso, nagkasakit, mga lalaki pa naman. So tinulungan ko po makauwi dito at kinasuhan namin, hinanap talaga namin ang illegal recruiter,” he recalled.
The assistance Go provided to the Kuwait OFWs is consistent with his pronouncement that he decided to run for a Senate seat to serve the people, following the example of service set by his mentor President Rodrigo Duterte.
Go said the creation of a Department of OFW is part of the legislative priorities he would pursue if elected senator.
It is similar in concept to the Malasakit Center, a one-stop shop housing concerned agencies such as DoH, DSWD, PAGCOR and PCSO to make it easier for indigents, vulnerable and disadvantaged patients to get medical and financial assistance from the government.
If the assistance these agencies have provided is not enough to cover the hospitalization cost of the poor patient, funds from the Office of the President coursed through selected government hospitals which are processed in Malasakit Centers could help drive down the cost further.
He noted with admiration that Makati City has actually gone a step further by offering free health services to its residents.
“This is my dream for the whole Philippines,” Go said.
Go, who was instrumental in the establishment of Malasakit Centers during his stint as special assistant to President Duterte, wants to craft a law for the creation of Malasakit Centers in all provinces and urban centers in the country.
Apart from these, Go’s priority legislation covers the fight against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption, agriculture and food security, housing, education, youth and sports development, localized peace talks, and fire protection and prevention.