Legarda hails law creating Department of Migrant Workers, pushes for sufficient funding to help OFWs

As Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, Legarda has supported the increase in the allocation of funds to the Department of Foreign Affairs, for the repatriation of OFWs, and legal assistance fund, and ensured that programs for OFWs are adequately funded. 
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MANILA, Philippines — Three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda hailed the enactment of the Department of Migrant Workers Act under Republic Act (RA)11641, a law dedicated to implementing welfare programs and policies that respond to the needs of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and ensuring that their rights are protected. 

“With millions of Filipinos working in foreign nations, it is our duty to safeguard their rights and welfare. A dedicated Department will make sure that our OFWs are in a secure workplace with fair terms of employment, decent working and living conditions, health protection, medical care, and other forms of social protection,” Legarda said. “This not only guarantees the welfare of our OFWs but also assures their families that they are kept safe and secure.” 

As Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, Legarda has supported the increase in the allocation of funds to the Department of Foreign Affairs, for the repatriation of OFWs, and legal assistance fund, and ensured that programs for OFWs are adequately funded. 

She has also sponsored additional budgets for funding of existing consular offices and embassies, and for the opening of new embassies and consulates to foster deeper foreign relations and protect the welfare of Filipinos abroad.

Under the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), Legarda also sponsored the inclusion of additional funds for emergency repatriation services for OFWs under the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE’s) Welfare Services Program and implemented in coordination with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Legarda has also authored and sponsored various laws that advocate for the protection of OFWs. Among these landmark laws are RA 10635, also known as the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA); RA 10801 or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Act; and RA 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012. 

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Promoting the rights and welfare of OFWs is on top of three-term Senator Loren Legarda’s advocacies. In 2008, Legarda facilitated the rescue of Filipina Overseas Workers in Malaysia who were victims of human trafficking.
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During her stint in the Senate as Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Relations, the former Senator also sponsored various resolutions, including International Labor Organization Convention 189 (Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers) and the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006, both of which aim to provide better protection to Filipino workers.

Given the unprecedented health crisis and presence of political unrest in some countries, the three-term Senator stressed that “the Department should be adequately funded and must also focus on legal assistance; repatriation programs; reintegration programs of displaced OFWs, including entrepreneurial opportunities, skills mapping and matching between areas vacated by OFWs; and potential alternative places for redeployment.”

“Our overseas Filipino workers endure various hardships living and working in foreign lands, yet they, as our modern-day heroes, steadfastly contribute to nation-building, especially in easing our country’s economic woes,” Legarda said. 

“The creation of the Department dedicated to their pressing needs and concerns is thus very timely, especially now that the pandemic has resulted in massive lay-offs and repatriations,” she pointed out. 

Affirming her deep appreciation for our OFWs, Legarda is adamant about shielding them from inhuman or degrading treatment and any form of abuse.

“They contribute tremendously in saving our economy. Hence, we must also provide adequate resources and enable avenues for their protection and welfare while in a foreign land,” Legarda said.

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