Press Release
March 6, 2010


NPC-NP-LDP Vice-Presidential candidate Loren Legarda today warned applicants for overseas work, especially the women, to be vigilant of unscrupulous recruiters. In her Davao campaign sortie, the local media asked for her plans for OFWs.

"Ang administrasyon namin ni Senator Villar ay maniniguro na hindi aapihin ang ating mga kababayan abroad. Yung mga hindi naman pinalad sa mga amo nila, ire-repatriate namin. Ipagpapatuloy namin ang sinimulan na ni Sen. Villar," Loren assured the crowd of thousands.

Loren, along with running-mate Sen. Manny Villar, has consistently expressed her commitment to alleviating OFWs from the threats of abuse while at work abroad. Villar himself has repatriated hundreds of OFWs.

"We must strengthen our foreign affairs, overseas recruitment and labor agreements with various host countries, especially where women are most vulnerable to abuse. At the domestic front, we will need reforms in laws covering recruiters and overseas work agents to mandate a fairer and safer treatment that our applicants are due," she said.

Loren cited the example of a Filipino domestic helper who was helpless in filing rape charges against her recruiter in Saudi Arabia. "Kawawa sya. Walang matakbuhan dahil bukod sa hindi na sya sumweldo at maraming inuwiang utang, wala pang pambayad sa abogado para ma-demanda nya yung nang-rape sa kanya," she told the audience.

She was referring to a case of a former OFW who came to her office last year after being harassed and raped by her Arab recruiter in Saudi Arabia, along with her friend and tens others who experienced a similar plight.

"Ang masakit pa nito, our OFWs have sent billions of dollars in remittances every year to keep our economy alive. In June last year alone, we had received a remittance of $1.5 B. In 2008, OFWs sent back a total of $16 B-roughly 10% of the country's GDP. Kaya dapat lang na pangalagaan natin ang kapakanan ng ating mga OFW," Loren urged.

She also called on the government to enact such reforms at a legislative front and push for a more OFW-friendly agreements with host countries especially in the Middle East and the ASEAN. At the same time, she called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to be more alert and receptive of OFWs seeking assistance and refuge in their posts.

"The hard work OFWs are doing for their families has veered the country away from the effects of the global financial recession, so the least we can do as a government to honor them is to help secure their rights as workers and as individuals, especially in countries foreign to them," she concluded.

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