ACTS-OFW Partylist Chairman and former Rep. John Bertiz has cited the significant headways that the Duterte administration has made in promoting the welfare and protecting the rights of millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) here and abroad.
Bertiz, a known OFW rights champion, made the statement as he addressed the delegates attending the recent “High-level Consultation on Global Governance of Migration” held in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
“Our President, President Duterte, whose heart goes for the welfare of overseas Filipino workers, saw the need for a handbook on the rights and responsibilities of migrant workers that will serve as a ready reference at any time,” he said.
“Only three months ago, President Duterte signed another law to provide protection and assistance to Filipino migrant workers, especially for workers who are vulnerable to physical, emotional and psychological stress or abuse,” he added.
Bertiz was referring to the two laws signed by President Duterte. The first one was Republic Act (RA) 11227, also known as the “Handbook for Overseas Filipino Workers of 2018,” and RA 11299, or the “Act Establishing the Office for Social Welfare Attache.”
Under RA 11227, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration is mandated to develop, disseminate and update a handbook in English with translation in local dialects about the rights and responsibilities of migrant workers.
RA 11299 mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development to deploy social welfare attaches to countries with large OFW populations, especially those were there are high incidence of abuses against them.
Bertiz, a former OFW himself, pointed out that while the Philippine government has made important accomplishments in looking after the affairs of OFWs, there are more work to be done in coordination with all stakeholders of the whole migration cycle.
“The welfare of migrant domestic workers is a universal concern. You and I have heard horror stories about them and saw bruised bodies and faces of repatriated workers who have been abused at work,” he said.
“Each one of us has a role in helping shape laws, policies and programs that we think can improve the plight of our women domestic workers who choose to work overseas to improve their economic and social well-being,” he added.
According to the former lawmaker, the President has jumpstarted the move to pass a law creating a one-stop-shop government department for OFWs when he addressed Congress leaders during his 4th State of the Nation Address last July 22.
“As a former legislator who also authored this particular bill, I am beyond happy that there is a concrete development for the creation of such department. I myself was an OFW and I know the pains and sacrifices that an OFW faces,” he said.
“Creating a unified agency that will address all our needs is already a one big step that will provide convenience to our modern heroes,” he added.
During the 17th Congress Bertiz filed House Bill No. 192 creating a Department of Migration and Development in support of the President’s campaign promise to create a separate full-fledged department to take care of the OFWs and their families.