Press Release
January 14, 2010

Villar: Repatriate all distressed OFWs

If he makes it to Malacanang, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar said his first order of business will be to bring home thousands of stranded Filipinos abroad.

"The repatriation of Filipino workers stranded abroad will be one of the first things I will do should I be given the mandate to serve," Villar told a forum on foreign affairs in Makati City.

"Sick and penniless OFWs have been languishing abroad, and it takes many years for them to be reunited with their families. Those are the fortunate ones. Some never see their loved ones again," Villar later said on the sidelines of the two-hour question-and-answer forum.

There should be a "general repatriation" program for OFWs "who are too ill or too poor" to return to the Philippines on their own, he said.

Villar said this "grand balikbayan program" for OFWs in distress will be among the first things he will do if elected president.

"Ang dapat gawin ng susunod na administrasyon ay pauwiin ang mga Pilipino sa aborad na may sakit, walang pera, o inapi," Villar said.

Villar said he came to learn the plight of "OFWs in trouble" through the "400 text messages for help" a day he receives through the Sagip-OFW Helpline he has established using his own money.

His Sagip-OFW Helpline has been inundated with appeals for assistance from OFWs confronted by abuses, physical threats, unfair working conditions, and sickness.

Villar's frequent "foreign missions" where he fetches "sick, imprisoned, abused, and poor" OFWs have also brought him face-to-face with "the ugly side of the Filipino diaspora."

In a statement issued early this year, Villar, citing DFA sources, said that at any given time "there are about 4,000 OFWs who are in distress, with little government resources to give them aid and relief."

In the same forum, Villar also batted for the "reorientation" of the thrust of the country's foreign service corps "towards assistance to Philippine nationals."

News Latest News Feed