The Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday launched the official “OFW Help” page on Facebook to provide distressed overseas Filipino workers a new system to reach the government and request for emergency assistance.
The “OFW Help” Facebook page, managed by the DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, seeks to assist undocumented or irregular workers who are not members of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and who are in need of emergency response.
“It aims to provide a more preferable system in receiving request for assistance from the next-of-kin of OFWs and OUMWA case officers. Especially if the client is unable to contact the OUMWA hotline or travel to the nearest Post,” its profile reads.
OUMWA is the primary office tasked to handle requests for assistance from the next-of-kin of OFWs in distress or the OFWs themselves.
The said request is then referred to the concerned Foreign Service Post, either a Philippine Embassy or consulate, which will conduct the groundwork in making representations with the employer and concerned authorities of the host government to assist the said OFW in distress.
Meanwhile, two leaders of the House of Representatives backed the proposed creation of the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers.
This, as the joint House Committees of government reorganization and overseas workers affairs, opened its discussion on the proposed measure, a priority agenda of the Duterte administration.
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt Romualdez, principal authors of House Bill 3274, said the Enactment of the measure would address the growing needs and challenges faced by the overseas Filipinos.
“We support the immediate passage of the proposed department of OFWs,” the Romualdez couple said in statement.
“The absence of a single agency to address foreign employment concerns has made it difficult for the government to focus on the needs and demands of foreign Filipino employment, in general, and of OFWs, in particular,” they said.
President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his call for Congress to pass a law creating a Department of Overseas Filipinos in his last State of the Nation Address.
The Romualdez couple said the lack of coordination among these agencies and redundancy of work lead to confusion among our OFWs and compromises the services to be rendered to our modern-day heroes.
“Despite the existence of agencies to protect Filipinos abroad, numerous problems and challenges confront OFWs and their families: illegal recruitment, employer abuse, sexual abuse, inadequate benefits, inefficient and ineffective delivery of services to OFWs, lack of representation of the OFW interests in the agencies that are supposed to protect and promote their rights, among others,” they added.
The Romualdezes said there are different agencies that have mandates relative to overseas employment.
“Hence, there is a pressing need to establish an agency that would manage, harmonize, and strengthen existing policies and programs to address the needs of foreign Filipino employment,” they said.
The President’s son, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig-Pateros and his wife, Rep. Laarni Cayetano, who represents the other district of Taguig-Pateros, also filed their respective versions of the bill.
The bill, they said, called for the creation of a single agency to provide an integrated, more comprehensive and sustainable approach to address the problems and concerns of overseas Filipino workers and their families.
“The bill to create the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers and Foreign Employment to ensure that the agency would manage, harmonize and strengthen existing policies and programs on migration,” the bill’s author said.
Under the consolidated department the delivery of services and provision of assistance will be faster, better, more responsive and more efficient.
Currently, there are five major agencies that have mandates relative to overseas employment and overseas Filipinos concerns, namely the Department of Labor and Employment, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, and the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“The absence of a single agency to address foreign employment concerns has made it difficult for the government to focus on the needs and demands of migration in general and of OFWs in particular,” Cayetano said. With PNA