(Eagle News) – President Rodrigo Duterte said he would set up by December the “Department of Overseas Filipino Workers” to address the concerns of the country’s OFWs.
The department would make sure that the recruitment of OFWs would be under strict regulation of the government, and would work to prevent the abuse of Filipinos working abroad.
“Kailangan na ninyo ng isang departamento (You already need a department),” he said in a speech during the “Araw ng Pasasalamat for Overseas Filipino Workers” on Friday, July 12 at Camp Aguinaldo.
“So you will have a Department of OFW para sa inyo lang,” he said.
Duterte said that he has already talked to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on setting up this department as he was disturbed with the numerous reports of OFW abuses abroad.
“Kaya apurahin ko ‘yang Department of OFW,” he said.
The President said that the department once established would make sure that Filipinos who would want to work abroad should only approach the government-approved and regulated recruiters.
He said he would ban recruitment operations which are not under the regulation of the government.
“Bawal na ‘yang recruitment diyan sa labas napunta ka doon. Doon ka makipag-deal, may listahan doon, mamili ka na lang kung sinong gusto mo,” he said.
“At ‘yan regulated and I have the power to do that because that kind of mechanism of recruiting Filipino workers abroad has been abused and abused and abused. At ang mga kababayan ko, puro biktima, puro kawawa.” Duterte said.
He said the OFWs should learn to be assertive and to stand for their rights.
“The Filipino is not assertive. You do not stand for your rights. At kung anong ibigay sa inyo, would be worse than what you would expect if you can just stand up and say **** you,” he said.
President Duterte also promised OFWs to designate police attachés to countries with huge population of Filipino workers. OFWs can approach the police attachés whenever they encounter abuses or security concerns abroad.
“The police attaché will connect you to…dito sa Pilipinas kung ano ang problema. And they will be trained to help you in legal matters of how to do it in the meantime that you are not here to solve the problem,” he explained.
The chief executive also vowed to equip a hospital intended for OFWs located in Nueva Ecija with state-of-the-art medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans.
“Karamihan kayo mga nurse, you will have the MRI, CT scan, and… Just like what I did to the military hospitals,” he told the OFWs.
President Duterte said providing livelihood to returning OFWs is a priority for his administration.
“Equally important is the availability of livelihood and entrepreneurship opportunities for returning OFWs. Meron tayo. MSMEs,” he said.
“Tuturuan kayo. Or if you want a new skill na ‘yung mapili, mag-training kayo dito kay Sid [Lapeña]. Libre ‘yan.”
One of the highlights of Friday’s event was the signing of a memorandum of agreement between government agencies for the welfare and protection of OFWs.
Among the agencies involved were the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).
The Araw ng Pasasalamat sa OFWs is a joint initiative of the Duterte Diehard Supporters (DDS) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) through the PNP Global Police Community Relations Program.
(with a PND report)