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Certification Good, but OFW Protection Better – Legarda

July 4, 2012

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA TODAY URGED THE GOVERNMENT TO STRENGTHEN OFW PROTECTION IN LIGHT OF ITS RECENT DECISION TO ADD 32 COUNTRIES IN THE LIST OF TERRITORIES THAT MEET PHILIPPINE STANDARDS ON THE PROTECTION OF OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS.
“The job of our government does not end with certifying countries as safe havens for our OFWs. The more countries our government certifies as OFW-safe destinations, the better it be prepared to address contingencies that may face our OFWs,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
To date, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has certified a total of 184 countries found to be compliant with the guarantees on the protection of the rights of foreign workers provided under Section 2 of Republic Act 10022, the Amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act.
“The OFW-friendly tag being associated with these certified countries should not lull our government into complacency. These countries may have progressive migrant-labor policies, but at the end of the day, the responsibility of our government is not diminished by the presence of favorable policies in the host country,” the Senator said, pointing out situations, such as those that have attended a number of countries in the Middle East which required the mobilization of massive government resources to evacuate Filipino OFWs to safer grounds.
“Our government should also be on the lookout for unscrupulous recruiters that might use these certified countries as staging grounds for the deployment of workers to countries covered by deployment ban,” the Senator added.
Legarda also called attention to the fact that being in the list of certified countries does not mean that deployment will be automatically allowed in these countries.
“Attendant situations in these countries and the risks therein should ultimately be the basis for government’s decision to allow deployment or not. We certainly should not put our OFWs in harm’s way by allowing their deployment to countries where there is on-going civil strife,” Legarda said.
“I will be reviewing the level of preparedness of government agencies in addressing contingencies or crisis that may face overseas Filipinos. The upcoming budget hearing will provide an opportunity to examine the programs and services, including contingency plans, of government to address the needs of our growing overseas Filipino community. I will certainly look into this,” the Senator said.
It is estimated that there are at least 8 million Filipinos overseas. Government data show that deployment of domestic workers continues to increase, averaging more than 130,000 from 2008 to 2010.