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Legarda Sets Inquiry on Government’s Actions, Plans for OFWs in Crisis Situations

March 28, 2011

AMID ONGOING UNREST AND WITH THE OCCURRENCE OF NATURAL HAZARDS IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES, THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, CHAIRED BY SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA, WILL CONDUCT AN INQUIRY ON THE PREPAREDNESS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND ITS STRATEGY TO ENSURE THE SAFETY AND WELFARE OF OVERSEAS FILIPINOS IN CRISIS SITUATIONS.
Legarda said that the hearing, set on March 29, 2011 at the Senate, will look into the efforts being done by the government in providing assistance to overseas Filipinos residing or working in countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are facing political turmoil and in nations, such as New Zealand and Japan, recently hit by disasters.
Invited to attend the Senate inquiry are officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
“We want to know straight from the officials of these agencies the plans they implemented when these man-made and natural calamities occurred. More importantly, we want to see the plans that they have developed and will implement should other emergency situations arise in other countries,” Legarda said.
In Senate Resolution 417, the Senator pointed out that the DFA, DOLE, OWWA, and POEA are mandated under Philippine laws to protect the interest, safety and well-being of overseas Filipinos.
Furthermore, all Philippine embassies and consulates must be prepared in times of crisis and are required to develop their respective crisis management and security plans.
“Under the Amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Welfare Act, an emergency repatriation fund for migrant Filipinos must be established, and livelihood programs for returning OFWs must be developed. Do we have these in place and have we used them to support our overseas Filipinos who have returned from conflict-stricken nations? These things we are to find out in this Senate hearing,” Legarda said.
“We want to ensure that our laws do not just become mere symbolical gesture of our desire to protect our nationals overseas, but effective mechanisms to provide real and effective solutions to these overwhelming challenges facing our citizens in foreign lands,” Legarda concluded.