Duterte signs into law OFW Handbook bill

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Duterte signs into law OFW Handbook bill
The free handbook will serve as a reference for OFWs when the need to assert their rights and responsibilities arises.

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has signed into law a measure that mandates the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to develop, disseminate and update a handbook on the rights and responsibilities of migrant workers.

Republic Act 11227 or “The Handbook for Overseas Filipino Workers of 2018” signed on Feb. 22, amended RA 8042 or the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.”

The handbook, which will be given free of charge to land- and sea-based workers, will serve as a reference for them when the need to assert their rights and responsibilities arises.

It also aims to address issues that they need to know in order to maintain decent employment conditions while working overseas.

To make overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) aware of their rights and responsibilities, the government will publish the handbook in English with translation in local dialects. 

The law complements the worker education program of various agencies, provide basic information on the labor and living conditions in the country  of their destination, make the workers aware of the benefits and drawbacks of working overseas and provide information for their reintegration to society.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday appealed for help for stateless people, including children of Filipino migrant workers.

In a statement titled “Stateless Children, A Concern For the Church,” the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) highlighted the plight of the stateless children in the world. 

The ECMI issued the statement ahead of the observance of the 33rd National Migrants’ Sunday on March 10. 

CBCP-ECMI executive secretary Fr. Restituto Ogsimer said that just like how the church responds to asylum seekers and refugees in the country, the church should also advocate for the rights of stateless people.

“We are the church, let us act now, seek them out and extend our hands the farthest it can reach to care for them, to embrace them and to make them feel loved and recognize their existence in our midst,” Ogsimer said in the message.

He said statelessness challenges both the church of origin and the receiving churches and there is a need for a vigorous campaign to mainstream the discourse on the issue.

Ogsimer said there is an urgent need for policies and laws that would recognize and promote “just treatment” and provide basic material needs for stateless people, especially the youth.

Records showed there are 3.7 million stateless people in 78 countries.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that at least 10 million people globally could be stateless.

In Sabah, Malaysia alone, there are reportedly more than 10,000 children born to Filipino migrants who entered and illegally worked in the country.

Malaysian immigration law does not grant legal status to children of immigrants.

“In effect, the children are not registered and became victims of conflict in nationality laws and are stateless, putting them in a more vulnerable situation,” Ogsimer said.

He said these children could not even avail themselves of proper education since they could not be enrolled in formal school, nor do they have access to basic health care.




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