Monitoring Duterte’s promises to OFWs

President Rodrigo Duterte is now half way his 6-year term of office.  Let us look into the promises he has made to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and how he is  keeping up with those promises.

He called the OFWs “our heroes” during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) and increased the OFW assistance fund from P400 million to P1 billion.

Just lately he also ordered that the creation of a separate department for OFWs be expedited and want it to be operational in December this year. The OFW department will exclusively cater to the needs and concerns of OFWs. Along with this bill, Duterte also warned the illegal recruiters to stop their illegal activities because he will hunt them down and they will pay for their crimes.

Recently, Duterte signed into law a bill that will create the Office for Social Welfare Attaché that will extend assistance to distressed and traumatized OFWs.  This is in response to the cry of many OFWs who have been victims of their employer’s atrocities and bad attitude.

This law mandates that there will be social welfare representatives to countries where there are many OFWs working to attend to their needs immediately.  The law will prioritize OFWs who are victims of rape, sexual, abuse, and illegal trafficking.

In March this year, Duterte also signed a bill requiring the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to create a handbook containing the rights of Filipino workers abroad.  This will educate the OFWs of their rights so that their employers and illegal recruiters could not take advantage of them.  The handbook will be given free to all OFWs whether sea-based or land-based.

As part of Duterte’s commitment to OFWs, the establishment of OFW hospital in Pampanga which held its groundbreaking on May 1 has already been approved on its third and final reading. The law mandates that the health benefits and medical assistance for OFWs be improved and sustained.  Along with this, the law orders the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to include in their benefits and medical assistance programs for OFWs the line-item budget necessary to improve the access of OFWs and their dependents to healthcare services.

Another service specially created for OFWs is the OFW bank which was inaugurated in January 2018 under the Land Bank of the Philippines.  The bank is expected to extend financial assistance to OFWs like savings deposits, loans, investments, remittances, and payment services  to OFWs and their families.

And to complete the list of Duterte’s promised assistance to OFWs, the creation of the e-card was launched by OWWA.  THis OFW e-card will combine some government ID functions  to minimize documentary requirements for OFWs.  It can serve many functions like access to welfare programs, scholarship applications, training programs, and other social benefits. – LMI

Source: The Filipino Times

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