Keeping track of Duterte’s promises to OFWs

President Rodrigo Duterte has made a number of promises to the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to improve their lives and hopefully convince them to come home and be with their families. How is he keeping his promise to make current generation of OFWs to be the last?

“Ito ang pangako ko. Sana naman sa Diyos at sa inyo, ang patatrabaho niyo sa labas hanggang diyan nalang. Next generation sa Pilipinas na,” he said in a speech to the Filipino community in Japan in 2016.

On July 22, the President will speak to the entire nation and to millions of Filipinos across the globe once again to report his accomplishments and visions for the next half of his term.

OFW assistance fund

During his second State Of The Nation Address or SONA, Duterte ordered a Php1 billion increase on the assistance fund for OFWs to address their needs.

“They are our heroes. They and their families have sacrificed much for the country. We all know how a large part of our economy comes from their remittancesz That is why to ensure that their rights are protected, I order the increase of our assistance to the OFWs from P400 million to more than P1 billion,” Duterte said.

The OFW Department

Duterte has floated the idea of having a separate OFW department that will cater to all the needs and concerns of migrant Filipino workers.

Senate Bill No. 202 or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019 hopes to end illegal recruitment, too, which often puts our migrant workers in a perilous condition.

“This will be for the whole Philippines. No recruitment from outside. Just go to the department and deal with the people there. I have the power to do that because that kind of mechanism of recruiting Filipino workers abroad has been abused and abused and abused,” Duterte said in a speech.

Social welfare representatives for distressed OFWs

Duterte has signed into law a bill creating Office for Social Welfare Attaché. The office will help victims of illegal recruitment and distressed or traumatized OFWs.

The new law requires the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to deploy social welfare attaches in countries with high concentrations of Filipinos.

The law wants to prioritize OFWs in need of psychosocial services, like victims of illegal recruitment or trafficking, rape or sexual abuse, maltreatment and other forms of abuse.

The OFW handbook

Duterte also signed a bill into law last March, requiring the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to create a handbook containing the rights of Filipino workers abroad.

The handbook will be given free of charge to land-and sea-based workers. It will serve as a reference for them when the need to assert their rights and responsibilities arises.

OFW Hospital

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill creating an OFW hospital in Pampanga.

The bill mandates that the Labor Secretary shall ensure that existing health benefits and medical assistance programs are strengthened to include, among others, subsidies on hospitalization and medical procedures for OFWs and their qualified dependents.

The OWWA shall also include in their benefits and medical assistance programs for OFWs the line-item budget necessary to improve the access of OFWs and their dependents to healthcare services.

The OFW bank

In January 2018, the President has inaugurated the OFW bank which is under the Land Bank of the Philippines.

The bank was set up to respond to the financial needs of OFWs.

“I am verry happy that I fulfilled my campaign promises,” Duterte said during the inauguration of the OFW bank.

The Overseas Filipino Bank is expected to offer deposits, loans, investments, remittance, and payment services to address the needs of OFWs.

OFW e-card

The Overseas Workers and Welfare Administration also launched the so-called OFW e-card for Filipinos.

The card will combine some government id functions to minimize documentary requirements for OFWs.

It can be used for OWWA services such as welfare programs, scholarship applications, training programs, and other social benefits.

Staff Report

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