Press Release
January 5, 2010

Legarda urges creation of OFW hospital

Senator Loren Legarda wants the Senate to immediately pass the bill she authored creating the Migrant Workers Hospital so that returning OFWs can avail themselves of medical care.

Loren cited official statistics that 42 percent of returning or repatriated OFWs require immediate medical attention or hospital confinement.

"Many OFWs suffer exploitation and even physical abuse in the hands of their employers. Some arrive home with physical ailments, while others even have mental problems. But is government ready to help them?" Loren asked.

"Unfortunately, because many of them can no longer stand the abuse or exploitation, they are unable to finish their contracts and so they come home with little or no money," Loren observed.

The senator said that if it is official policy to encourage OFW deployment, then it should be the responsibility of government to look after their welfare, even after they have returned home.

She noted that few OFWs can afford urgent medical care or hospitalization. Nor can the families of ailing OFWs afford to shoulder the cost of medical care even if they have been receiving dollar remittances. Fewer still are able to get insurance that would cover medical emergencies.

Loren envisions the Migrant Workers' Hospital as part of a comprehensive package of health services that the government, through the Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration, can provide OFWs.

"When they return from abroad, then they can go direct to the Migrant Workers' Hospital. They should not have to worry about where to go for a check-up. The hospital should be able to provide all the services they need," Loren said.

Loren said that while the senators are still deliberating this bill, she hopes they would be able to pass this important piece of legislation before the forthcoming elections, "so that we can repay the OFWs for the sacrifices they have made for their families and for the nation." Loren has likewise initiated the earmarking of funds in the 2010 budget to financially assist the medical needs of returning OFWs and their families.

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