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Go pushes for creation of OFW department

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Giving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) the best possible government service is why the creation of a department devoted to their welfare is necessary, Sen. Bong Go said yesterday.

Go said this is the goal President Duterte wishes to achieve as he continues to look after the welfare of OFWs and their families, especially in these challenging times.

In his final State of the Nation Address last Monday, Duterte expressed his concern for millions of Filipino migrant workers greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in joblessness and repatriation.

The President then highlighted the significance of the bill proposed by Go that would create a Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos in addressing these challenges.

“That is long overdue. President Duterte’s term is coming to an end. He has promised that for a long time,” said Go. “They are our modern-day heroes and they don’t have their own department yet.”

The committee report – a consolidated version of related measures establishing a department for OFWs – has been sponsored by Sen. Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, before the plenary.

Senate Bill No. 2234, if passed, will establish the department primarily mandated to develop, recommend and implement national policies, plans, programs and guidelines that protect overseas Filipinos, as well as promote their interests and effectively resolve issues concerning them.

In addition, the DMWOF will be responsible for providing fundamental social and welfare services, including insurance, social work assistance and legal assistance, as well as administering reintegration and social service programs to OFWs.

“With this bill, the time for giving our OFWs the runaround is over. Gone are the days when our fellow Filipinos are tired of being neglected because of the bureaucracy and rotten system,” said Go.

The senator, a protégé of Duterte, appealed to fellow legislators to recognize the hard work of OFWs who continue to contribute and sacrifice for their families, as well as for society, by supporting the bill.

“My fellow legislators, I call on you to help our OFWs. Many of them lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Families who depend on OFWs for their daily livelihood are also affected,” he said in pushing the passage of the measure.

Go’s advocacy for OFWs is nothing new. Last year, he played a significant role in the granting of pardon to OFW Roderick Aguinaldo who had been detained in Bahrain for four years.

He was also instrumental in the recent repatriation of migrant worker Malik Darimbang who had been stuck in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for six years.

Much earlier, Go also assisted several OFWs from Kuwait forced to engage in illegal sexual services. He facilitated the provision of legal and medical assistance to them.

In March this year, the senator’s team gave relief to repatriated OFWs from Syria and then again last June for hundreds of seafarers in Intramuros, Manila.

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