GMA Visit

Our organization Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Saudi Arabia (KAKAMPI-KSA) received an official invitation letter yesterday 25 April 2006 from the office of (POLO-Riyadh) Labor Attache Manuel Roldan informing us the arrival of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the Kingdom on May 7, 2006. Also in the letter it said that PGMA will have an audience with the Filipino Community on the evening of May 8, 2006, 8:30 PM at the Philippine Embassy grounds.

PGMA

PGMA

We all knew that GMA made many plans in the past to visit Saudia Arabia; the last one was of September last year that did not materialize. Now, at last! She will be here for an official visit primarily to discuss with Saudi Government on oil issues particularly in the light of rising crude prices in the world market. Hoping she could achieve positive outcome on her number one mission – to secure affordable oil price.

I believed that the issue about Filipino Expatriates in the Kingdom is in the list of her priorities, considering the fact that for the past few days 7 of our compatriots were implicated in the recent horrible incident in Jeddah where they are deeply involved.

Certainly, she can’t just ignore this problem, after all – she represents the image of the Filipino community in the Kingdom. Perhaps, what she can surely do at this moment is to request the Saudi Government to treat those alleged suspects in a manner where their rights are properly protected under the Saudi Law. Also, I understand that she is expected to appeal for clemency for other six Filipinos facing the death penalty on various murder charges.

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The mentioned letter of invitation is requesting Filipino Community to give inputs and recommendations in relation to OFW issues and concerns. It is going to be submitted today in advance prior to the said scheduled meeting for her consideration.

Well… there are many OFW issues and concerns; in fact a lot of recommendations were already submitted to the proper agencies that oversees the plight of Filipinos overseas.

Some of our concern NGO’s at home made an appeal to the Lower and Upper House of Congress for the possible amendment of certain provisions in the Republic Act 8042 known as Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. There are also many attempts from our pro OFWs legislators by filing Senate and House Bills intended for the general welfare of migrant Filipinos. Sadly, a number of them were left unattended in the closet of their respective committees pending deliberations and appropriate action.

Last year we even raised the question of the legality of OWWA USD 25.00 contribution to the highest court of our land but unfortunately as of now it is still in the good hands of our esteemed members of Judiciary pending its decision.

All of these were not given exceptional attention from the three (3)branches of our government namely; the executive, legislative and the judiciary.

Where else do we go? Directly to the President? Are there any assurances that the President will give attention to our recommendations? We hope so. Nevertheless, there is no harm in trying.

WE therefore, respectfully submit the following for the Presidents’ utmost consideration:

A) TRANSFER OF OWWA FUND TO PPSB

Remarks:

We strongly opposed the plan to transfer 1 Billion Peso OWWA Fund to Philippine Postal Bank. If there should be a transfer of fund, then it must be governed by a legislative measure where we can see and understand its implementing mechanisms.

Recommendations:

An appeal to the President to act in behalf of the OFW’s to expedite the early discussions and deliberations of the following legislative proposal:

Senate Bill No. 639 authored by Sen. Manuel Villar, Jr. Re: Seeking the creation of the Philippine Overseas Workers Bank to serve the financial and investment needs of the growing number of OFWs worldwide;

And

HB No. 1565 authored by Rep. Jaime Lopez Re: An Act Establishing the Overseas Filipino Bank. This bill concentrates and would specifically authorized to address the banking, economic, financial, and related needs of the more than eight million Filipinos working abroad.

Any of the two above Bills that would be in the best interests of the Migrant Filipinos Overseas, then we hereby request for its passage into law.

B) RECOGNIZE OFW AS A SPECIAL SECTOR

Remarks:

A) The OFWs are not properly represented in the policy formulating boards of the government agencies that oversees OFW’s issues and concerns.

Recommendation:

1) The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Welfare Administration (OWWA) governing board should be well represented by an OFW who comes from the OFW rank himself/herself and not just a mere political appointees whose credentials are not well define as representative to OFW’s.

2) That any such appointees should be consulted or must be recommended by the OFW Community themselves.

3) Dubbed as Modern Day Heroes and economic savior, OFWs should be recognized as Special Sector” and therefore be provided with empowering mechanisms in the affairs of governance locally.

4) OFWs contributed a lot to the progress of local economies and it is therefore recommended that upon their return for good to their respective localities they should be given a place in the affairs of local governance.

5) Former OFW and their families be given a right sustained by executive or legislative measure to participate in the local election of the City or Municipal Council. In this manner the government reintegration plan for the OFWs into the mainstream of our society particularly in the grassroots level will be truly established and rightly implemented. ***  BongA