By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Richard J. Gordon today commended the Senate’s approval on the third reading the bill seeking to establish the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) that would address all issues and concerns of Filipino workers abroad in one single agency.
In casting his vote in favor of Senate Bill (SB) 2234, Gordon said the establishment of a Cabinet-level agency that will accommodate overseas Filipino workers (“OFWs”) and their families has been long overdue.
“Itong batas na ito (ay) ma-aaddress yung insecurity ng mga pamilya nitong overseas Filipino workers. Naka-address ang kanilang pag-repatriate ng pagpapadala ng pera sa mga pamilya nila na iniwanan nila para makipagsapalaran at magsakripisyo sa ibang bansa,” he said.
“Ang dapat lamang magkaroon ng mahalagang departamento para maasahan maasahan nila ng pamilya at ng ating bayan lalo na ng ating Overseas Worker,” he added.
Gordon has introduced two amendments to SB 2234. First, he empowered and required the DMW, in coordination with Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to conduct regular, timely, and relevant political and security risk assessment in a particular to the OFW-receiving country.
It includes adequate evacuation plans that will be coordinated with OFWs, not only for immediate deployment but also in cases of emergencies requiring swift actions, such as their possible evacuation.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020, the government has repatriated thousands of OFWs who were displaced from their work abroad. Official figures show that 785,448 OFWs have been repatriated since then.
Gordon also introduced as his second amendment, an additional power to the DMW Secretary to terminate, suspend, or impose a total ban of foreign workers to a particular country. It allows the immediate action of the DMW Secretary to ensure protection of the best interest, welfare, and safety of migrant workers.
With the passage of the bill, Gordon said he hopes that the country will be able to respond to the various concerns of OFWs through a more powerful and responsive agency. Nevertheless, he emphasized that national policy, moving forward, should aim to build the country so that Filipinos abroad can find greener pastures in the country.
“I hope that we can do, it does not stop here we must do better by our OFWs, tulungan natin silang palagi. Talagang alisto tayo na kung may mga kakapusan ang mga batas na ito, dali-dali nating pupunuan at sana pagdating ng araw naiipon ng mga OFWs,” he pointed out.
“’Di lang nauubos sa pasalubong at magkaroon sila ng pagkakataon na sila’y nagtrabaho, ma-invest sa pamamagitan ng isang korporasyon na dapat magamit para sila ay entrepreneur rin. Work, save, invest, prosper. That’s should be the end all of what we do,” he added.
As a volunteer-chairman of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) since 2004, Senator Gordon was able to repatriate hundreds of OFWs who sought help from the biggest humanitarian organization in the country.
In 2009, around 70 OFWs from the Gaza strip were rescued by the PRC amidst rising violent tensions between Israel and Palestine.
Gordon had also called on the Department of Labor and Employment to lift its annual quota for nurses who want to seek greener pastures abroad after many healthcare workers were barred from leaving the country. (ai/mtvn)