|Senatorial bet Eddie Villanueva|
They are currently filing legal action against their local recruiters. Villanueva said that many of the country’s diplomatic and labor offices abroad continue to fail to provide OFWs even the most basic protection against abusive employers, including urgent legal and repatriation assistance, using the alleged lack of funding as excuse:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA'><!-- more -->
He noted that based on latest statistics from the Department of Foreign Affairs, around 5,000 Filipinos continue to languish in jails in foreign countries.
“The many reports of OFWs suffering in the hands of abusive employers highlight the need for our embassies and consulates to redouble efforts to protect the welfare of Filipinos working abroad and deliver timely assistance to them,” Villanueva said. “It is sad that many of our fellow Filipinos choose to work abroad and leave their families behind out of economic necessity. Unfortunately, many of them who have come home are dismayed at the failure of the Philippine embassy or labor offices in their country of destination to provide relevant services to abused or maltreated OFWs.” Dedicated personnel To address this, Villanueva proposed that all embassies have welfare and legal assistance services dedicated to OFWs, and that budget and staffing be realigned so that overseas offices in countries where there are high concentration of OFWs get more budget and staff. “This way, we do not add to the budget but merely using it wisely.” He noted that in many cases in the past, budgetary constraints have hindered government efforts to provide quick assistance to OFWs involved in legal cases or those who need to be repatriated.
Villanueva is aware of the plight of many abused OFWs, having helped about 50,000 Filipinos who needed legal and financial assistance.
Additionally, Villanueva said the government must tighten accreditation requirements for private recruitment and placement agencies while aggressively seeking out and prosecuting erring and illegal recruiters. “The government must ensure that the priority that it gives to OFWs in policy is reflected in its actions and programs, and that our foreign posts are geared to serve our OFWs,” Villanueva said. “While OFW remittances have been recognized as an important pillar in the country’s economic development, very little resources seem to be allocated by government to ensure the protection of their rights while working abroad. We know that the government can do a lot more to give back to our OFWs.”