Press Release
April 24, 2008

Villar welcomes OFWs, warns violators of immigration laws

Senate President Manny Villar filed Senate Resolution No. 366 urging the Senate to conduct a comprehensive review of the implementation of labor recruitment, anti-human smuggling and immigration laws of the country.

Villar presented his resolution to the media during the Senate visit of five maltreated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Abu Dhabi who have returned to the country following the Nacionalista Party president's sponsorship of their airfares.

The Senate President stressed that illegal recruitment is a crime considered as an offense involving economic sabotage when committed against three or more persons as defined in the Labor Code.

Villar said a comprehensive review of immigration laws must be made in the wake of the following: (1) the reported rampant human smuggling activities; (2) the increasing number of incarcerated OFWs particularly in the Middle East; (3) maltreatment and abuse of OFWs; (4) illegal recruitment even of minors using the 'escort system.'

"The OFWs are now considered the biggest partners of our country's economic development with their remittances accounting for the continuing appreciation of the peso," Villar said.

The Senate president noted that there are at least 7,945,252 overseas Filipinos whose remittances through formal banking institutions in the first half of 2007 alone reached over $7 billion.

In his resolution, Villar said, "There is a seemingly lax implementation and trend towards compromise of our laws and policies on illegal recruitment, anti-human smuggling and immigration in exchange for economic benefits and dollar remittances of OFWs."

"This review must be conducted immediately to realize the objectives of the constitutional provisions on a truly meaningful and caring labor environment," he stated.

The five OFWs who visited Villar at his office were Lea Malunes, 27, from Camarines Sur; Salama Bakal, 28, from Cotabato City; Bernadette Romero, 38, from Cavite; Luciana Lunar, 44, from Batangas; and Fennie Tiletile, 48, from Tagum City.

They escaped from their employers due to overwork, maltreatment, and insufficient food. Villar welcomed them with sari-store pangkabuhayan goodies, while Senate doctors examined their conditions.

Earlier, Villar also welcomed nine maltreated OFWs, six of whom were minors, from Jordan whose airfares he likewise sponsored.

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