Many of our fellow OFWs especially those in networking sites overreacted to the House Bill 6195 filed by Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David. Let me explain, the said house bill does not mention any paragraph that WE, OFWs require to pay $50 as contribution to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Emergency Repatriation Fund before leaving the country.
“The bill intends to provide the necessary measures for the government to carry out its responsibilities to assist distressed OFWs in cases of war, epidemic, disaster or calamities, natural or man-made, and other similar events, and promote their general welfare” according to the 2nd termer, Manila, 4th District Representative to the House of Congress.
What was mentioned in the proposed measure provides that for every worker recruited or deployed overseas, the recruitment agency or its employer shall be required to pay $50. Though I can’t blame them for shouting out loud against the said bill because of the nightmare we had experienced in which the OFWs are the ones paying OWWA membership that the employer is supposed to.
Some of our OFWs are worried that if the bill enacted into law, the implementing regulations could be the same as OWWA membership. Well, it should not be treated seriously, am sure no one in the 35 members Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs will approve it even in the first reading.
The said bill according to the house journal was filed May 17, 2012 and was referred to the Overseas Workers Affairs Committee on May 23, 2012 headed by Rep. Walden Bello where it was logged as of national significance.
The House committee daily bulletin Volume II, No. 113 dated May 23, 2012 prepared by the Committee Affairs Department did not mention any report about HB 6195.
The Committee tackled and approved the substitute Bill to HBs 2422 and 3562 filed by Reps. Gathalian and Violago.
Both House Bill 2422 and 3562 is seeking for the creation of a charter that shall govern the operation and administration of OWWA. The said bill is to define the membership base and coverage of benefits and identify the programs for availment of its members, fund management and public accountability of its administrative officials.
The measure according to the bill’s explanatory note is designed to contribute to a more effective and efficient delivery of services to accord a greater mantle of protection for our OFWs as well as advancement of their rights and welfare.
The members of the Committee also tackles the update on the implementation of Section 4 of RA 8042, as amended by RA 10022, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.
1) It has existing labor and social laws protecting the rights of workers, including migrant workers;
2) It is a signatory to and/or a ratifier of multilateral conventions, declarations or resolutions relating to the protection of workers, including migrant workers; and
3) It has concluded a bilateral agreement or arrangement with the government on the protection of the rights of overseas Filipino workers.
During the committee hearing pertains to the repatriated OFWs from war torn Syria, OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon reported that those repatriated OFWs who are OWWA members are entitled to a P10,000.00 financial assistance from OWWA.
Nothing about $50 was mentioned in the house bulletin.
There are many important issues that should be given utmost attention by our lawmakers than acting such bills that could not guarantee the protection of our OFWs rights.
Overreacting is not what an ordinary distressed OFWs needs from us, they need us to guide them on what they can do with regards to their problems on site. Let us focus on the real problems of our fellow OFWs. Huwag na lang po tayong sumakay at maki-alam sa trabaho ng mga politiko, nagmumukha tuloy tayong politician. “Tingnan nyo muna ang problema ng inyong katabi bago tumawid sa kabilang bakod.”
Sabi pa sa awitin ni Ka Nonoy Zuniga “Malayo ang tingin, wala namang tinatanaw”. – by: BongA