Message for Filipino Migrant Workers

December 21, 2023

We commemorate one of the pillars of the Philippine economy — the Filipino migrant workers.

Countless miles away from their families, they toil night and day to provide a better and more sustainable future for their brood, in turn, their dollar remittances provide vital numbers to our economy, which in turn in trickle-down effects, make our lives better.

As a lawmaker, I have advocated for the protection and welfare of our modern heroes. I have championed the enactment of the OFW Remittance Protection Act of 2022, which safeguards the foreign remittances of our migrant workers without prejudicing the interests of financial intermediaries, both bank and non-bank.

Our commitment to them does not end with their employment but I have sought to protect them through retirement as well. Through the Social Security Act, both land and sea-based OFWs now enjoy compulsory SSS coverage; it gives them another income channel after their years of hard work.

I have also co-authored a law establishing the Office for Social Welfare Attaché. This institution now effectively assists and manages cases involving distressed overseas Filipino workers, victims of trafficking, and abandoned children.

Even as they reside far from the Philippines, I have worked to ensure that our OFWs have a voice in local political affairs through the enactment of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003.

Pending the signature of the President is the proposed Magna Carta for Seafarers law, which aims to secure their rights to decent, just, and humane conditions aboard sea-going vessels, and sets guidelines for their training and education, overseas employment, and retirement.

I have also sought to look out for the Filipino diaspora in various countries throughout the world through the numerous treaties that I have sponsored as then Chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the Senate; numerous agreements have helped ease the way of living for countless workers abroad.

Among these are the opening of embassies in Denmark, Morocco, and Sweden; and consulates in Frankfurt, Germany; Houston, Texas in the USA; Barcelona, Spain; Nagoya, Japan; Istanbul, Turkey; and Melbourne, Australia during the 17th Congress.

I sponsored the concurrence of treaties pertaining to the improvement of the conditions of our seafarers, and domestic workers such as the Maritime Labour Convention, International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189, and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with countries such as Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the People’s Republic of China. During this 19th Congress, I co-sponsored the concurrence of ILO 190, recognizing the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment.

In our commitment to facilitating economic growth by eliminating the barriers posed by dual taxation, I sponsored the double taxation avoidance for Filipino workers in countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Mexico during the 17th Congress, and co-sponsored this present Congress the double taxation avoidance to Filipino workers in Brunei.

I affirm my dedication to providing a safety net for our citizens, ensuring that their years of hard work contribute to a secure and dignified retirement, that I sponsored social security agreements between our country and the countries of Spain, Sweden, and Germany during the 17th Congress, and co-sponsored this 19th Congress the social security agreement between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to these individuals for their unwavering sacrifices and remain steadfast in our commitment to advancing legislation that champions the rights and welfare of our migrant workers. ###