Press Release
June 16, 2020

Hontiveros seeks Senate probe on gov't plans to
reintegrate displaced OFWs families

Note: Please see attached PSR No. 445 and 446 in PDF format

"We must put an end to the suffering of our migrant workers and their families during this pandemic. Dapat may malinaw tayong plano para tugunan ang financial, medical at mental health needs ng dumaraming bilang ng OFW na bumabalik sa bansa."

This according to Senator Risa Hontiveros, who today pushed for a Senate review of government plans to reintegrate Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families who have been displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hontiveros filed proposed Senate Resolution No. 445, which calls for a Senate investigation into government's return and reintegration plans for OFWs amid "the substantial influx of Filipino migrant workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic returning to the Philippines, perhaps permanently."

In the resolution, Hontiveros said the government must have a comprehensive plan in place to address the needs of the around 300,000 OFWs expected to return home to the Philippines this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is essential that the government's return and reintegration programs take the needs of OFWs and their families into account in developing and implementing financial aid programs for households in distress, mental health and psycho-social services, and medical assistance in relation to COVID-19, including mandatory testing," Hontiveros said.

"Hindi lang ang mas mabilis na testing at mas maayos na byahe pauwi ang dapat siguraduhin ng pamahalaan para sa ating OFWs. Dapat may long-term assistance din sa kanilang kabuhayan at kalusugan ngayong marami ang matagal pa o hindi na makakabalik sa kanilang trabaho abroad," she added.

Hontiveros said that the government must be ready to provide ample livelihood assistance to OFWs, particularly female workers, who are likely to suffer more from the loss of jobs and livelihood brought by the pandemic. Citing an academic paper entitled "Women, Migration and Reintegration" by Estrella Dizon-Añonueva and Augustus T. Añonuevo, Hontiveros noted that a majority of Filipina migrants do not have any substantial savings, and have more difficulty in adjusting to the lack of economic opportunities in the Philippines.

She added that government's efforts must extend to social and mental health assistance for OFW families dealing with the sudden return and reintegration of their OFW family members into their households and communities. "Government has to help our OFWS overcome these unseen but important issues," Hontiveros said.

Address 'disproportionate' impact of pandemic on women

The senator also filed proposed Senate Resolution No. 446, which urges government to integrate a 'gender lens' into its COVID-19 programs, given the "disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and girls."

One area that needs to have gender-specific interventions, Hontiveros said, is the reintegration of Filipina migrant workers, who according to Philippine Statistics Authority comprise 55.8 percent of Filipinos deployed abroad. "Filipina workers abroad are more exposed to abuse, exploitation, and sexual violations, and government must be responsive to these unique problems."

Government plans, she added, must also address the heightened violence against women and girls during the pandemic, including the rise in cases of online sexual exploitation and reported abuses of prostituted women by law enforcement agents at checkpoints.

"While the full breadth of the crisis and its differential effects on the basis of gender still need to be fully studied and analyzed, it is necessary and urgent to begin conversations on how to craft gender-specific interventions that will address the multiple dimensions of this crisis," Hontiveros said.

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