Shelter for distressed OFWs in Macau sought
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - September 1, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Migrant workers have been urging the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to open a shelter for distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Macau.

Wilma Ocde, Migrante-Macau president, said over the weekend that they have been demanding for a shelter in Macau, as many workers lost their jobs unexpectedly and have nowhere to stay. 

“This shelter is actually long overdue because Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III made a promise in Hong Kong during a dialogue with the Filipino community attended by a representative of Migrante Macau. Secretary Bello said the POLO Hong Kong can help establish an OWWA shelter in Macau,” Ocde said referring to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office. 

Filipinos are the second largest foreign workers in Macau, next to Chinese.

Ocde said OWWA has no reason not to grant the request for shelter, noting the agency has collected millions of pesos in OFW contributions.

“In 2007 alone, OWWA has $20 billion in funds,”  Ocde said, adding “the amount has surely increased this year.”

“With the poor record of OWWA in helping our kababayans in distress globally, a very significant amount of our money is supposed to be intact in their treasury,” Ocde added.

She said they repeatedly demanded the Macau consulate to set up a shelter in the area through the OWWA.

“This is important because a terminated worker can not afford to pay the rent for a bedspace as this may cause them additional burden,” Ocde said.

Aside from shelter, Ocde said OFWs in Macau have other concerns like substandard wages.

She wants the government to stop deducting the workers’ salaries for the mandatory contributions to the Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and OFW compulsory insurance.

“What we want is for the government to punish the illegal recruiters, agencies and human traffickers. We want them to  protect the migrant workers from being deported back to the Philippines because of malicious accusations of working illegally in Macau,” Ocde said.

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