Press Release
October 27, 2023

Bong Go highlights continuing efforts to promote welfare of Filipino health workers abroad

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go shared updates on the official visit of the Philippine Senate to the United Kingdom, where he, along with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Grace Poe who are co-heads of the delegation, engaged in interparliamentary discussions with their British counterparts aimed at enhancing bilateral relations.

The visit transpired as a result of an invitation from the British Group Inter-Parliament Union, marking an initiative to strengthen ties between legislators of the two nations while fostering economic security, exploring areas of cooperation between the two countries, and promoting the welfare of Filipinos working there.

One of the concerns raised during the dialogues revolved around the welfare of approximately 200,000 Overseas Filipino Workers in UK, including 40,000 Filipino health workers, primarily nurses, who have significantly contributed to the UK's healthcare sector.

"OFWs are indeed modern-day heroes. They help boost our economy but more importantly, they help uplift the lives of their families to give them a better future and also showcase the talents, skills and work ethic of Filipinos to the world," Go stated earlier.

As Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, Go shared that during his meetings with his counterparts in the UK parliament, he was able to raise some concerns of Filipino nurses particularly in terms of protecting their welfare, promoting their rights to proper benefits and compensation, as well as in ensuring a safe working environment for them in the UK.

In an interview on Tuesday, October 24, during a visit to projects he earlier supported in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, Go further articulated the appeal of Filipino nurses in UK for a re-evaluation of their benefits and compensation.

"Nakiusap po tayo (sa UK) na pag-aralang mabuti ang benepisyo ng ating health workers doon, karamihan ay mga nurses... Kaya nagpapasalamat ako sa kanila, sa mga benepisyong binibigay nila and to revisit also 'yung mga kompensasyon o 'yung mga benefits na dapat ibigay po sa kanila once they apply (and work in UK)," expressed Go.

He shared that Philippine Senators present also further appealed to their UK counterparts to make it easier for Filipino nurses to access better salary grades and benefits. His statements underscored the diligence and compassion of Filipino nurses, describing them as among the best in the field.

"Take for example May Parsons, a Filipina-British nurse who became known globally for administering the first COVID-19 vaccine outside of a clinical trial, and who was a recipient of the UK's George Cross Award. I have co-sponsored a Senate resolution earlier recognizing and commending her achievement," he shared.

Meanwhile, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go also shared that he expressed his gratitude towards the UK government, particularly for their vaccine donation during the crucial times of the pandemic.

"Pasalamat also doon sa binigay nilang bakuna sa panahon ng pandemya. Nag-donate po sila ng mga vaccines during the time of the pandemic. Malaking tulong po ang mga bakunang ibinigay nila," noted Go.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Go also thanked his counterparts for other development assistance extended by the UK to the Philippines as well as their help in strengthening the Bangsamoro Region particularly in formulating the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

"Nagpapasalamat din po tayo sa mga tulong nila kasi parte rin po sila sa tumulong sa Bangsamoro, 'yung pag-formulate ng BOL o Bangsamoro Law. Naging parte sila na ma-achieve po natin ang kapayapaan dito sa ating bayan," he said.

During his visit to UK, Go met with OFW leaders and shared some legislative updates such as the establishment of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), aimed at addressing the concerns of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) more efficiently.

"Masaya akong ibalita rin na mayroon tayong DMW... Ako po ang isa sa mga author at co-sponsor at iyan 'yung pinangarap natin noon, DMW," Go mentioned.

Go is one of the authors and co-sponsors of the Senate version of Republic Act No. 11641 which created the DMW. The law streamlined the organization and functions of all government agencies related to overseas employment and migration through the creation of the DMW including services from pre-employment to reintegration.

Go also brought attention to the operational OFW Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga, as a realization of a long-cherished dream to provide dedicated healthcare facilities to OFWs and their families.

The OFW Hospital, a donation from the provincial government of Pampanga, commenced its operations in May 2022. It consists of six floors and can accommodate 100 beds, primarily intended for the use of OFWs and their eligible dependents. A Malasakit Center has also been established in the OFW hospital to make medical assistance programs more accessible to those in need.

According to Go, the establishment of the DMW, the OFW Hospital and its own Malasakit Center are just a few of our dreams before that are now realities for Filipinos to benefit from.

"These are testaments of our commitment to promote the welfare of migrant workers and their dependents. However, we acknowledge that there is more work to be done. That is why we continue to listen to their concerns, serve them to the best of our abilities, and pursue initiatives to further their cause," he said.

Go has also filed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2297, seeking to institutionalize the OFW Hospital and ensure its continuous operation. The bill aims to improve healthcare services for OFWs and their families by strengthening the existing facility and allocating necessary funds for its personnel, equipment, maintenance and operation.

Finally, the senator likewise filed SBN 2414, or the OFW Ward bill, which aims for the establishment of OFW wards in every Department of Health (DOH)-retained hospital across the country if enacted into law.

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