Senator Sonny Angara is calling for stronger protection and enhanced welfare mechanisms for Filipino workers both here and abroad as a way of recognizing their valuable contribution to the country’s economic growth.
“Let us balance economic activity and development with the protection of workers’ rights as they are the hands and feet that move our country towards progress,” Angara said.
Let us balance economic activity and development with the protection of workers’ rights.
According to the veteran legislator, the primary obligation to protect the rights and welfare of every Filipino worker rests with the government and its agencies.
“As enshrined in our Constitution, let us affirm labor as a primary social economic force,” the seasoned lawmaker said. “Wherever our Filipino workers are, the government, as mandated by our Constitution, must be committed to protect their rights and promote their welfare.”
Let us affirm labor as a primary social economic force.
The youthful senator said it is important for Filipino workers to feel that their government takes care of them and is doing something to ensure their rights are protected at all times.
“Sa lahat ng hinaharap ng mga manggagawang Pilipino nasaan man sila, katuwang dapat ang gobyerno sa pagtaguyod sa kanilang mga karapatan,” he pointed out.
Angara said the government also needs to step up its efforts in protecting overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially those in the Middle East, where many are still exposed to abusive employers and exploitation.
“The economic contribution of OFWs cannot be overstated. It is but proper that the government address their concerns and ensure their well-being before they could even leave the country and especially during their stay abroad,” he said.
Angara is the author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 10801, which institutionalized and strengthened government’s support for OFWs and their families by introducing reforms to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
Under the said law, also known as the OWWA Act, OWWA is declared a national government agency and an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment, and now receives government funding instead of relying solely from the contributions of its OFW members.
Enacted in May 2016, the law further boosts the government’s capacity to assist migrant workers who lost their jobs by making the reintegration of OFWs one of the core programs of OWWA, which is funded with not less than 10 percent of its total annual collection.
The reintegration program includes granting of loans and other financial support, trainings on financial literacy, entrepreneurial development, techno-skills, business counseling as well as job referrals for both local and overseas employment.
The law also seeks to ensure transparency in the utilization and management of the OWWA funds, and mandates the agency to maintain an interactive website to collect OFW feedback, comments, suggestions and complaints on existing programs and services.