MANILA, Philippines – Amid abuses by employers against overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), President Rodrigo Roa Duterte recently announced he will work for the speedy passage of the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers, which will ban recruitment of OFWs abroad and will put Philippine-based recruitment agencies under strict government regulation.
During the Araw ng Pasasalamat sa OFWs held in Camp Aguinaldo, the President instructed Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III for the establishment of the Department of OFWs, which the President said must be implemented by December this year.
Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who was also present during the event Friday, said he has filed a proposal for the creation of such department, one of his campaign pledges during the last midterm elections.
“Kaya apurahin ko ‘yang Department of OFW,” President Duterte said in his speech. “Bawal na ang recruitment sa abroad…sa labas. Kung gusto nila, diyan sila maglagay ng mesa. So under the supervision of government at walang horrendous charges.”
“By December… buong Pilipinas ‘to. Bawal na ‘yang recruitment diyan sa labas…napunta ka doon. Doon ka makipag-deal, may listahan doon, mamili ka na lang kung sinong gusto mo,” he added.
President Duterte stressed that he has the power to create such mechanism to prevent abuses of Filipino workers abroad.
He warned unscrupulous recruitment agencies saying, “Kaya kayong mga recruitment, bilang talaga ang araw ninyo. ‘Pag hindi ko kayo nadala sa usapan na maganda, brasohan tayo. ‘Pag nag-brasohan tayo, kayo ang matatalo. Sigurado ‘yan.”
President Duterte also promised OFWs to designate police attachés to countries with huge population of Filipino workers. OFWs can approach the police attachés whenever they encounter abuses or security concerns abroad.
“The police attaché will connect you to…dito sa Pilipinas kung ano ang problema. And they will be trained to help you in legal matters of how to do it in the meantime that you are not here to solve the problem,” he explained.
The chief executive also vowed to equip a hospital intended for OFWs located in Nueva Ecija with state-of-the-art medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans.
“Karamihan kayo mga nurse, you will have the MRI, CT scan, and… Just like what I did to the military hospitals,” he told the OFWs.
Providing livelihood to returning OFWs is also a priority for the Duterte administration.
“Equally important is the availability of livelihood and entrepreneurship opportunities for returning OFWs. Meron tayo. MSMEs,” he said.
“Tuturuan kayo. Or if you want a new skill na ‘yung mabili, mag-training kayo dito kay Sid [Lapeña]. Libre ‘yan.”
One of the highlights of Friday’s event was the signing of a memorandum of agreement between government agencies for the welfare and protection of OFWs.
Among the agencies involved were the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).
The Araw ng Pasasalamat sa OFWs is a joint initiative of the Duterte Diehard Supporters (DDS) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) through the PNP Global Police Community Relations Program. (PND/IAMIGO/Currentph.com)