Press Release
May 18, 2013

Villar appeals to OFWs in Taiwan to report cases of harassment to MECO

Senator Manny Villar appealed to overseas Filipino workers to report instances of harassment and discrimination to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) for proper verification and appropriate action by representatives of the Manila Economic Cooperation Office in Taiwan.

Villar noted that despite the ongoing impasse over the shooting incident that led to the death of a Taiwanese fisherman, a majority of Filipinos in Taiwan are being treated well by their employers.

"Our Filipino community leaders are directly in touch with Philippine labor representative Reydeluz Conferido who in turn mans a 24/7 hotline: +886-932-218-057. MECO is doing its best to verify all these reports of discrimination and harassment. To be fair, a great majority of Filipino workers in Taiwan are being cared for by their employers," Villar said.

The president of the Nacionalista Party said that President Aquino has already apologized for the shooting incident and an impartial investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation has begun.

"The President has set the right tone and we should continue to take the high road given this emotionally-charged incident. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) are cooperating fully with the NBI and it is just a matter of time for all the facts to be sorted out," Villar said.

The senator called for a review and strengthening of the reintegration programs being offered by the Philippine government to returning overseas Filipino workers in light of recent developments in Taiwan and Saudi Arabia as well as the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Villar lamented the lack of information on the reintegration opportunities, services and programs for OFWs offered by such agencies as the Department of Labor and Employment, Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry.

He noted that more OFWs would be coming in from Saudi Arabia, as the grace period ordered by the King of Saudi Arabia will lapse on July 6. "As the Saudi government's deadline for the repatriation of foreign workers with irregular work status nears, more Filipinos would be coming home in search of jobs and livelihood opportunities," the Nacionalista Party president said.

He said strengthening OFW reintegration programs would likely be one of the priorities of incoming Senator Cynthia Villar considering her advocacy and experience in social entrepreneurship and livelihood programs.

The senator, however, expressed optimism that the row between Taiwan and the Philippines over a shooting incident involving the Philippine Coast Guard can be resolved peacefully through diplomatic channels.

"Let us be prepared for any contingency but be mindful of the deep, abiding ties between the peoples of Taiwan and the Philippines," Senator Villar said.

He said that the Villar Foundation is willing to help promote livelihood programs for returning OFWs in partnership with the National Reintegration Center for OFWs under the labor department.

"While I look forward to a more relaxed and quiet life as a full-time entrepreneur, my commitment to help our OFWs will continue. They are our modern-day heroes and deserve to be treated as such by both the public and private sectors," he stressed.

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