Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte Jr. on Friday ensured cooperation with overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and other stakeholders involved in the training, deployment, and placement of OFWs in pushing for the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (DOFW).
According to Villafuerte, the measure is a top priority of the House leadership as OFWs had requested President Rodrigo Duterte to establish a line department specifically to address the concerns of Filipinos working abroad.
“He (Duterte) has heard many stories about the hardships of our countrymen and I understand his motivation for rushing this measure.”
Villafuerte met with the leaders of the Alliance of Bonafide Recruiters for OFW’s Advancement and Development (ABROAD), which recently submitted a position paper to Malacañang and members of Congress on the said measure, to identify points of agreements and discussion to improve the bill being pushed by the Duterte administration.
The lawmaker said he welcomes the partnership and support of the recruiters’ alliance and encourages them to gather their testimonials and cases that can prove that there is universal concern and support for the creation of a DOFW.
“I have been with President Duterte in many countries at malapit talaga ang puso niya sa mga OFWs. He has heard many stories about the hardships of our countrymen and I understand his motivation for rushing this measure,” said the solon from Bicol.
“As we push for this initiative we want to make sure that we also hear your voice. Collate all the files and submit them to us so we can share these with our colleagues during the upcoming hearings,” added the legislator.
According to Villafuerte, the House leadership eyes approval of the DOFW measure by October this year.
ABROAD representatives said they “were really thankful to our legislators for listening to us.”
“Aside from lobbying support from our lawmakers, our main goal is to establish partnership with the government in making sure that our expatriate professionals and skilled migrants’ rights are being secured and their concerns are being attended immediately,” the group said.
In the same meeting, Batangas 5th district Rep. Mario Vittorio “Marvey” Mariño, Chairman of the House Committee on Government Reorganization, expressed his appreciation to the group and urged its leaders to submit documents that can further improve government’s services for the OFWs.
ABROAD is a coalition composed of nine different recruitment agency associations: the Australia & New Zealand Association of Employment Providers of the Philippines, Inc. (ANZAEPP), the Association of Philippine Licensed Agencies for Technical Internship Program (APLATIP), the Association of Professional Philippine Manpower Agencies for China Inc. (APPMAC), the Japan Employment Providers of the Philippines & Consultants’ Association, Inc. (JEPPCA), the Overseas Placement Agencies of the Philippines (OPAP), the Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc. (PASEI), the Pilipino Licensed Manpower Agencies for Taiwan (PILMAT), the Philippine Recruitment Agencies Association for Saudi Arabia (PRAASA), and the Philippine Association of Agencies Accredited to Oman (PAAAO).
These organizations represent close to 500 PRAs and, collectively, have been responsible for providing overseas employment for over one million OFWs, including professionals, skilled workers, and home service workers.