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Lacson vows protection for OFWs, seafarers

Lacson vows protection for OFWs, seafarers
April 20, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson guaranteed that the new law seeking to protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be properly implemented under his administration to prevent past cases of neglect and abuse from government agencies in charge of looking after their sector.

Addressing residents in a town hall meeting from Estancia, Iloilo yesterday, Lacson said Republic Act 11641 or the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Act has included safeguards and other provisions aimed at promoting the best interests of OFWs.

One of these is the Agarang Kalinga at Saklolo para sa mga OFW na Nangangailangan (AKSYON) fund, which provides immediate legal, medical and financial assistance for distressed migrant workers as well as seafarers or sea-based employees.

According to Lacson, the newly created executive department also has a reintegration program to help returning OFWs get livelihood opportunities in the country, so they could still contribute their skills and talents to society.

“So, (they have) insurance, the SSS (social security system) and then the reintegration program… When they (OFWs) return to the Philippines, they can expect to be reintegrated back to our labor sector,” he said in Filipino.

Lacson pushed through with his visit to Iloilo where a lot of its residents have relatives working overseas. One town hall meeting participant asked if he has plans to help address the concerns of those who are also trying to seek employment abroad but have trouble processing their documents.

The veteran statesman explained that all relevant government agencies attached to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which have been taking care of OFW affairs, would now be incorporated under the DMW in accordance with the law.

“Because before it was confusing, the offices were separate. Now, it is integrated under one department… It would be more accessible because they would be establishing regional offices, provincial offices,” he said.

“So, concerns like someone getting redirected (to other agencies) as well as cases of abuse of our OFWs would now be attended to through the Department of Migrant Workers that the Congress enacted, the presidential candidate added.

Lacson said the implementing rules and regulations for the DMW are still being ironed out. According to a January report published by the Philippine News Agency, the department is scheduled to begin formal operations by 2023.

The DMW would be comprised of officials and personnel from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs; Philippine Overseas Labor Office, National Reintegration Center for OFWs, National Maritime Polytechnic – all previously under DOLE – and the Office of National Social Welfare Attaché, which was under the Department of Social Welfare and Development.