Press Release
November 7, 2023

Bong Go cites need to fast-track OFW repatriation amid escalating violence in Gaza and implement necessary reintegration strategies

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go has called for immediate government action to secure the safety of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) caught in the Gaza crossfire. He also urged the government to expedite the repatriation of Filipinos at risk in the region emphasizing the importance of swift and decisive action.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, Go raised his concern about the health and safety of affected Filipinos abroad while overcoming various crises happening globally.

"Filipinos wherever they are in the world, especially OFWs who are considered modern-day heroes, must be given utmost attention and care especially in their time of need. Their safety is non-negotiable," Go stated.

In light of the current global crisis, Go previously appealed to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to prioritize the accounting, protection, and repatriation of OFWs from the conflict zones.

"We must act with urgency to bring our kababayans to safety. The government must mobilize all its resources to assist our OFWs in these perilous times," he urged.

Beyond immediate safety measures, Go has also emphasized the importance of reintegration programs for repatriated OFWs.

"Bringing them home is just the beginning. We need to ensure that they are supported in rebuilding their lives, with opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship back home," he added.

The DFA is considering elevating the alert level in northern Israel by next week if the situation continues to worsen, which would signal increased danger for Filipinos in the region and further necessitate government action.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has conveyed that the Israeli government has assured that Filipinos in Gaza will be permitted to depart immediately. The Philippine Embassy in Cairo is also on standby to facilitate the Filipinos' passage through the Rafah border.

Despite this, there is a reluctance among some Filipinos, especially those with Palestinian spouses, to abandon their families.

Meanwhile, Go said that his office continues to closely monitor the situation, coordinating with relevant agencies to be of assistance to affected OFWs and their families.

Go has been a staunch supporter of the welfare of OFWs and was one of the authors and co-sponsors of Republic Act 11641, which led to the establishment of the DMW.

"The DMW Act was designed to protect our OFWs. Now, more than ever, it's time to put this law into action to protect our kababayans," Go emphasized.

Go also filed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2414 or the "OFW Ward Act." If passed into law, every hospital under the Department of Health (DOH) across the country will have a specialized ward for OFWs and their family members who require hospitalization.

Go has also filed SBN 2297, which seeks to institutionalize the OFW Hospital in Pampanga and ensure its continuous operation by providing sufficient support through necessary funding, personnel, and equipment. The bill aims to improve healthcare services for OFWs and their families by strengthening the existing facility and allocating necessary funds for its maintenance and operation.

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