With the steady rise in cases of abuse among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Senator Sonny Angara has called for the reexamination of the country’s labor export policy, urging the government to focus on providing decent and high-paying jobs to keep Filipinos from working overseas.
“Working abroad should be a matter of choice and not out of desperation or necessity. Kung tatanungin natin ang ating mga kababayan, sigurado akong mas gugustuhin nilang manatili sa bansa at makasama ang kanilang pamilya basta may disenteng trabaho at sapat na kita dito,” said Angara, vice chairman of the Senate labor committee.
The government has ordered a total ban on the deployment of migrant workers to Kuwait after the body of a Filipina was found in a freezer at an abandoned apartment in Kuwait City.
President Rodrigo Duterte has stated in a recent speech that the ban on deployment may also be imposed on other countries.
Working abroad should be a matter of choice and not out of desperation or necessity.
The veteran legislator lamented that despite the various laws that aim to promote the welfare of migrant workers, alarming figures on OFW abuse and exploitation persist.
Thus, the seasoned lawmaker filed a resolution calling for a reassessment of labor policies with an end-in-view of providing OFWs with opportunities and access to gainful employment in the country.
“We can no longer disregard the social costs of our labor export policy. We are exposing our kababayans to dangerous and deplorable working conditions abroad,” said the youthful senator, who sponsored the law strengthening the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
“Kung kaya sa bagong OWWA law, ginawa nating core program ang reintegration dahil layon nating huwag na silang umalis ng bansa. Dapat masiguro na napapakinabangan talaga ng ating mga OFW ‘yung mga kasalukuyang programa at serbisyo para sa kanila,” the senator from Aurora added.
He pointed out that among the reintagration programs the OWWA should be offering to returning OFWs is the free skills training under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to assist them in finding new jobs here at home.
If there’s Build, Build, Build, we are expecting that there would be Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.
The agency should also encourage returning OFWs to start a business in the country through the provision of P20,000 cash grant and up to P2-million loan under the Balik Pilipinas, Balik Hanapbuhay Program.
Angara further urged the government to improve country’s capacity to absorb the growing Filipino labor force.
“Definitely, if there’s Build, Build, Build, we are expecting that there would be Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. We should fast-track our infrastructure programs to create more jobs for our countrymen,” he said.