Monday, May 16, 2016

Duterte’s promises to OFWs

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte should keep his promises to protect the rights and promote the welfare of the millions of overseas Filipinos and their families, especially those who belong to the most vulnerable sector, such as the domestic helpers.

Duterte, who will soon be sworn into office as our next president, garnered the most votes from the OFW sector under the Overseas Absentee Voting system, compared to his other presidential rivals.
Even Vice President Jejomar Binay was hardly the OFW sector’s top choice for president, despite being a former presidential adviser on OFW concerns in the outgoing Aquino administration.
John Bertiz, a nominee of the Alliance for Community Transformation and Service – OFWs (ACTS-OFW) Partylist, said Duterte should put the OFW on top of the nation’s agenda because the OFWs have desperately been longing for government’s attention to their pitiful plight.
“Our OFWs have been clamoring for attention from our government.  In the past years, it seems that their cries have fallen on deaf ears.  It is about time we give our modern-day heroes the respect they deserve and the assistance they need,” he said.
“We are optimistic that the incoming administration under Mayor Duterte has a big heart for our OFWs and their families, especially among those who have been suffering abroad due to conflict and mass lay-offs in the Middle East,” he added.
Bertiz, a former OFW himself, noted how the privileges granted to OFWs have been decimated, notably with the continued implementation of the P550 airport terminal fee integration, also known as the International Passenger Service Charge integration.
He also cited several instances that OFWs and their families fell victims to indiscriminate pilferage of their balikbayan boxes as well as the extortion scheme, popularly known as the tanim-bala, at our airport.
“Last Tuesday night, the fourth batch of Filipino workers from bankrupt MMG construction firm in Saudi Arabia arrived in the country.  After spending the best years of their lives abroad, they arrived empty-handed, with no prospect of a decent job,” he said.
He also asked the incoming administration to conduct a thorough review of the laws and policies that impact on OFWs and their families, including the government’s reintegration program for those who have been displaced by economic crisis abroad.
            ACTS-OFW Partylist is a broad coalition of land-based and sea-based OFW rights advocates and organizations dedicated to protect the rights and promote the welfare of Filipino overseas workers, especially those who are in distressed and vulnerable.  (30)

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