June 7, 1995 the Migrant Workers and Filipinos Act of 1995 or Rep. Act 8042 was signed into law.
12 Years since it was enacted into law yet the said act has done a little or not much has been done to the Overseas Filipino Workers. The both House in Congress has never given our clamor for amendments of certain provisions that would enhance the protection and welfare of OFWs.
For instance, Magna Carta for Migrant Workers of 1995 provision under III: Services, Section 19 Establishment of a Migrant Workers and other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center. – Within the premises and under the administrative jurisdiction of the Philippine Embassy in countries where there are large concentrations of Filipino migrant workers, there shall be established a Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center with the following services…
In Saudi Arabia, there are 3 Filipino Workers Resource Center provided under this provision, each in Eastern, Western and Central Region. The said proviso did not specify male or female distressed OFWs. Our female distressed OFWs are housed in this Center and our male runaways are roaming around without valid work permit or expired iqamas and could be apprehended by the host country’s authorities anytime of the day. Others seek refuge with friends and other kindhearted fellow OFWs unmindful or maybe aware that harboring runaways could put their lives at risk too.
The establishment and operations of the Center are joint undertaking of various Philippine government agencies overseeing the plight of our Filipino migrant workers, however, facilities and required needs of our distressed OFWs were not being fully provided. Thus help and contributions from Filipino communities, organization and kindhearted individuals are very necessary to sustain their daily needs at the shelter.
Just recently a newly organized SEC registered group of overseas Filipinos named United Filipinos Worldwide for Community Development, UFWCD-Jeddah Chapter visited our distressed OFWs at the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah. Excerpt of the report by UFWCD-Jeddah, VP Jun Macaranas and the shocking revelations inside the consulate:
“As I only write what we see/saw, together with my KFSHRC-Jeddah colleagues, upon entering the big gates opened (with a Saudi Police stationed outside the gate), the quadrangle of the Consulate, estimated at 1000 sq. meter wide, LAY OUR KABAYANS, all male, with “improvised beds” to spend the whole night under an open air of the Consulate’s quadrangle improvised beds: cartons, cloth, papers at any site of the sprawling estimated 1,000 sq. meter wide cemented ground, all looking sad, without any smile, ignorantly looking at us, who by their looks, we were all made SPEECHLESS, the first time I have been to the Consulate very late at night with these bodies sprawling at any position they could find convenience at any points on the ground seeing all our kababayans, OFWs at this “nakakaluhang” sight all of them males, numbering at estimated more or less 100 pinagkakakasya ang kani-kanilang mga katawan upang maiprotekta ang sarili sa hamog, sa lamok, at sa ibang kinakaya na lang nilang magiging masamang epekto ng kung anong sakit ang dadapo sa kanilang lahat sa pagtulog sa malamig na semento ng quadrangle ng Phil Consulate Jeddah.” To read the full report of UFWCD VP Jun Macaranas click this link UFWCD-Hawak Kamay).
Where are the OFWs Millions or Billions of Pesos OWWA contributions? Why on earth our Government cannot provide or rent a better place for our unfortunate kababayans as mandated by the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers of 1995?
Nasaan na ang mga representative ng mga OFWs sitting at OWWA and POEA/DOLE Board? Are you doing your job? Or just receiving salaries doing nothing, sitting at your air-conditioned room while those unfortunate OFWs out there are hungry, no right place to stay and having sleepless nights.
This is what I always keep on saying, Overseas Filipino Workers should be truly represented by a legitimate OFWs and must be given full rights to be heard in one voice; and these could only be materialized with a broader participation in body politics so that we will be representing our OFWs with equal footing in any legislative agenda for our welfare and protection.
June 7 – Migrant Workers Day “Nothing to Celebrate”.