10-M OFWs urgently deserve a separate department

By Abdul Hannan Magarang Tago

Being an overseas worker for the last 25 years, I have witnessed and made number of reports on their (OFWs) sacrifices. 

Despite of that, the country benefits from their USD30 billion yearly remittances helping not only their families but contributing heavily to the national growth. 

They also played a significant role in electing their choice candidate in 2016 presidential election that obviously displayed their ability to change the political landscape of the country.

With no absolute solution to the employment problem, their number has grown to 10 million workers most of them households workforces exposing them to abuses, exploitation and maltreatment.

In 2016 presidential election, the OFWs have felt some kind of relief. For them, the iron and punisher man of Davao was the only hope to address their decades of suffering. 

Then the Mayor of Davao reciprocated that by taking major steps to address the OFWs concerns including his popular promise to create a separate Department. He appointed his presidential adviser on OFWs affairs. 

In the previous administrations, OFWs plight has worsened while some of the government labor mission in foreign post took advantage in abusing their power. 

The media exposed some of the blatant acts of those PH designated labor officers who were supposed to be protectors of Filipino workers abroad prompting the Senate to make its investigation. 

The OFWs and their incomes became milking cow for the corrupt officials benefiting both from the recruitment agencies and the numerous OFWs imposed contribution including Healthcare.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte administration so far, has done remarkable actions in favor of OFWs except the promised OFW Department yet to be implemented. He did promise too that he would appoint some qualified OFWs as head of mission. 

Himself repeatedly urged the concern lawmakers to pass the bill.

Thanks to the decisive and strong push by veteran OFWs that has prompted the Senate to schedule a session this coming month. 

Recently, Secretary Abdullah “Dabs” Mama-o has addressed the bill in a very logic and reasonable letter to the President to make it urgent. 

The remaining battle is who is going to handle the Department. The same people from Department of Labor as manifested by DOLE in his statement which both Sec. Mama-o and the OFWs veterans have strongly opposed. 

This is to be created for OFWs and should be run and handled 100 percent by themselves to make a total change in the affairs of the modern heroes. AHMT

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