Press Release
January 11, 2010

Number of distressed OFWs still rising
Villar: Labor, Workers Welfare Agencies Should Not 'Sleep On' OFW Cases

Nacionalista Party President Senator Manny Villar said claims of migrant workers that labor and welfare offices seem to be 'sleeping on' cases of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) must be seriously looked into by the authorities.

"As it is, being away from loved ones is stressful enough for OFWs. Thus, when they become involved in other distressing situations in foreign countries, the difficulty is multiplied many times over. Thus, it is imperative for our labor and welfare officers to prioritize extending help to distressed OFWs," said Villar.

Reports of Migrante-Middle East chapter that the number of distressed workers in Middle East is on the rise have reached Villar's attention. "Bawat araw na tinatakbo ng mga kaso ay nagdadala ng labis na kaba at pag-aalala hindi lamang sa ating mga OFWs, kundi lalo na sa kanilang mga kamag-anak at mahal sa buhay na naiwan dito sa bansa," cited Villar.

According to the migrant workers group, they received an average of between three and five cases daily from countries in the region. Thus, there is a need to deploy more labor and welfare staff in the region.

Villar urges the existing labor and welfare staff in various countries worldwide to speed up acting on cases of distressed OFWs. "Sa aking pakikipanayam sa mga OFWs, marami talaga sa kanila ay nasasangkot sa mga emergency cases na maituturing katulad ng pang-aabuso ng kanilang mga amo. Every single day that they spend in the company or residence of their abusive employer creates another opportunity for them to be maltreated or abused. Our labor officers must 'put' themselves in the predicament of the distressed OFWs," added Villar.

Migrante cited the case of 30-year-old Ryan Castillo, an OFW who reportedly died in a deportation cell in Saudi last April 6. Castillo was already sick when he was detained and according to the migrant group, had they not informed the media about the case, it would go unnoticed.

Villar, through his Sagip-OFW campaign, has helped at least 1221 OFWs to date, many of whom, Villar has rescued from abusive employers or provided other forms of assistance such as airfare, medical, counseling, legal, and livelihood assistance.

The welfare of OFWs is among the key advocacies of Villar and also among the priority platforms of the Nacionalista Party. Villar has also filed numerous bills focused on providing benefits to OFWs such as Senate Bill 3040 or the "Overseas Contract Workers Insurance Act" which seeks compulsory insurance for all OFWs in addition to benefits being provided by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

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