VP Leni calls for full-cycle protection for Overseas Filipinos
Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo on Saturday, January 8, held an online meeting with nearly 500 Filipinos living abroad where she reiterated the need for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to be protected throughout their migration cycle.
The virtual gathering with Robredo was organized by the Robredo People’s Council (RPC) with overseas Filipino communities in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Asia and the Pacific and Oceania. It was attended by 465 participants from 36 countries.
In their two-hour meeting, Robredo said that Republic Act No. 11641 or the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Act, signed by President Duterte in December last year, was a step towards the full-cycle protection of OFWs.
The law is designed to be a one-stop shop for OFWs as it consolidates labor-migrant serving national government agencies and units into the DMW. The department will provide OFWs ease of processing documents, filing of complaints, and seeking assistance, among others, from pre-deployment, on-site, and upon their return to the Philippines.
Robredo added that if elected to office, she would complement RA 11641 with an executive order mandating the creation of Migrant Resource Centers in every local government unit, patterned after the Naga City Migrant Resource Center.
The Vice President said that the Naga City Migrant Resource Center has been able to provide tremendous support to OFW families, but she still wants to still harness its potential, noting that there are still areas and opportunities for improvement for this kind of hub for OFW families.
“Yung social cost ng pag-aalis, grabe yung sakripisyo diba? Yung sa inyo (overseas Filipinos) at sa families niyo. Grabe yung sakripisyo. Nung nag-aabogado pa po ako, marami ako kliyente na mga OFWs. Ang shina-share nila, may hinanakit na: ‘Hindi naiintindihan ng family ko yung gaano kahirap yung buhay ko dito. Maraming demands sa akin’,” Robredo said.
Robredo expressed belief that a Migrant Resource Center will be able to “bridge this gap”.
She added that she would also tap the private sector partners of her flagship program, Angat Buhay, to support, mentor and guide returning OFWs and their families to ensure them a path towards meaningful social and economic reintegration in line with local and national development.
Robredo also vowed to have gender-responsive programs and services to Filipino women in all stages of migration, recognizing the vulnerabilities of female OFWs to gender-based violence, especially domestic workers.
As of 2019, there are 10.2 million overseas Filipinos across 200 destination countries and territories. Of this figure, 4.8 million are permanent migrants or overseas Filipinos, 4.2 million are temporary migrants or OFWs or contract based, and 1.2 million are irregular migrations.