Legarda Urges OFWs to Vote

April 11, 2022

Three-term Senator and Senatorial candidate Loren Legarda today expressed hope that the month-long voting for overseas Filipino workers that started yesterday (April 10) will proceed smoothly in all the voting precincts worldwide as she called on OFWs to exercise their right to vote.

“Overseas Filipinos should take advantage of the opportunity to elect their next leaders, and to choose wisely. Hinikayat ko ang ating mga kababayan sa labas ng bansa na huwag sasayangin ang inyong boto dahil nakasalalay dito ang kalagayan at kinabukasan ninyong mga OFW, ng inyong pamilya, at ng buong bansa,” Legarda said.

Legarda said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should see to it that the registered overseas Filipino voters are adequately assisted as they cast their votes in Philippine embassies and consulates worldwide.

“I trust that our embassies and consulates worldwide will provide adequate assistance to almost 1.7 million registered Filipino overseas to ensure that the voting process will go smoothly. Let us help our kababayan overseas as they exercise their right to take part in electing the leaders who they think will give them and their family the service and protection that they needed,” Legarda said.

Legarda, co-author of the Overseas Absentee Voting Law of 2003, made the statement as she assured OFWs that their welfare would remain on top of her legislative agenda once re-elected to the Senate. The three-term Senator stressed that “given the challenges that hardworking Filipinos encounter in foreign countries where their resources and avenues for protection are limited, we should promote much-needed reforms to effectively respond to the growing number of OFWs.”

“Bilang mga lingkod-bayan, obligasyon nating pangalagaan ang karapatan ng bawat Pilipino sa maayos na trabaho, may sapat na sweldo at benepisyo, lalong-lalo na ang mga kababayan nating nasa dayuhang bansa. We should continue to aim to provide better protection for our kababayan abroad because we do not want them to be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment or any form of abuse,” Legarda concluded.

Legarda was chiefly responsible for the passage of laws promoting the rights and welfare of OFWs and seafarers, such as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Act under RA No. 10801 and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 under RA No. 9208, and its expanded version under RA No. 10364. Through Legarda’s efforts as Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the Senate concurred in the ratification of treaties and international agreements that promote the protection of the rights of overseas Filipinos, including the ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) for the protection of the rights of seafarers; the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) with the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and China, which establish a legal framework that obligates Contracting Parties to assist in the investigation, prosecution, and suppression of criminal offenses and proceedings related to criminal matters; the Consular Agreement with the People’s Republic of China, which provides assistance to Filipino nationals in China, and the Convention on Social Security between the Philippines and Spain, which ensures that Filipinos in Spain are secured upon retirement, among others.

As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, she ensured allocation for the overseas Filipinos absentee voting and postage fees under the Commission on Election (COMELEC). Legarda initiated the opening of embassies in Stockholm, Sweden; Rabat, Morocco; Copenhagen, Denmark and new consulates in Frankfurt, Germany; Houston, Texas; Barcelona, Spain; Nagoya, Japan; Melbourne, Australia; and Istanbul, Turkey. She also sponsored the augmentation in the DOJ’s budget for the creation of a special task force and victims’ assistance program and additional allocation under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to be used for emergency repatriation of our OFWs, worker protection, and welfare program, employment facilitation program.***