Go appeals for assistance to OFWs returning to Philippines

(The Philippine Star) - December 18, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former special assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go yesterday appealed to airport authorities to extend all possible courtesies to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning to the country to be with their loved ones during the Christmas season.

“Whatever we can do to ease and expedite their leaving the airport, let’s do it for them. This is a small thing compared to their sacrifice and contribution to our economy,” Go said in Filipino.

Among others, Go suggested to immigration authorities to prioritize OFWs in using the new Electronic Gates System (E-Gates) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. 

According to the Bureau of Immigration (BI), the E-Gates began operation last October at the NAIA Terminal 3.

They were installed to further expedite the processing of arriving Filipino passengers, especially with the expected influx during the Christmas season.

“We should reserve some lanes at the E-Gates for returning OFWs so we can speed up their processing. Their families are really eager to see them,” Go added. 

Aside from reducing human errors in passenger clearing processes, the BI said they expect the E-Gates to cut the standard processing time for every traveler to only about 12 to 15 seconds from the present average maximum of 45 seconds.

Go also appealed to Customs officials to strictly enforce the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act that mandates a less intrusive examination of balikbayan boxes brought into the country.

“This law was passed because of complaints from many OFWs that their balikbayan boxes were searched and items intended as gifts wfor their loved ones were even lost,” Go said.

A senatorial candidate for the 2019 elections, Go includes in his legislative agenda the creation of a department dedicated to OFW concerns. 

In a recent interview, Go said that while it is good that a number of government agencies are providing different kinds of services to the OFW, it also created a situation where many overseas workers needing assistance have no idea where they could ask for help.

The concept is similar to Go’s agenda for improved health services, which is to enact a law mandating the establishment of Malasakit Centers in all the country’s provinces and select urban centers. 

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