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Legarda: Workers In and Out of the Country, Need Equal Support from Gov’t

April 30, 2011

AS THE NATION CELEBRATES LABOR DAY, SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA URGED THE GOVERNMENT TO LOOK CLOSELY INTO THE SPECIFIC NEEDS OF ALL FILIPINO WORKERS, INCLUDING THOSE WORKING OVERSEAS.
Legarda said that for laborers in the country, the government can ask employers to increase wages of their employees as the Department of Trade and Industry earlier stated that a wage hike—at a level that would make investors remain competitive—is reasonable considering the rising prices of basic commodities.
“If the DTI is supportive of the wage increase then it is possible to have it. We just have to consult with all stakeholders and regional wage boards must ascertain the exact amount of the increase. Filipino workers definitely deserve upward pay rate revisions to enable them to cope with soaring food and fuel prices,” she pointed out.
Legarda also urged the government to address the pressing concerns of OFWs especially with the recent controversy on the use of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Trust Fund.
The OWWA fund primarily constitutes the US$25.00 membership contributions of foreign employers and land-based and sea-based OFWs.
The Senator explained that the Php13-billion trust fund can be used for the needs of OFWs such as emergency repatriation, which many overseas Filipinos, particularly those in conflict- or disaster-stricken nations, should be made to avail to ensure their safety.
“The OWWA Trust Fund was established for the particular purpose of making available a pool of funds to assist OWWA members in times of distress or need. The fund belongs to OFWs, thus, the government has no right to dispose of it in ways not provided by law,” she stressed.
“It is high time that Congress reviews the status of the OWWA fund and examines the relevance and effectiveness of government support for our overseas Filipinos,” Legarda said.
Meanwhile, the Senator also called for the immediate passage of several bills she filed in the Senate that would support Filipino workers such as, among many others,: Senate Bill 7, the Kasambahay Bill, which seeks to raise the salary and provide benefits for household helpers; SB 1377, Amending the Productivity Incentives Act of 1990, which ensures just share by the workers in the fruits of their labor in relation to the profit yielded to the employer as a result of increased productivity; and SB 8, the Migrant Workers Hospital Act, that seeks to create a hospital dedicated to OFWs and their dependents.