The implementation of R. A. 10022 is a challenge that puts the DOLE at an even bigger forefront in pursuit of the goal of President Benigno S. Aquino III to reinvigorate labor and employment in the country and strengthen workers welfare and protection both in the country and Filipino contract workers overseas.
According to DOLE’s Report on President agenda’s on Labor and Employment 2010-2016, the department is crafting policies and reforms to respond to the current labor and employment situation. These reforms are structured in four key areas; 1) employment facilitation 2) workers welfare and protection, 3) labor relations 4) governance.
Overseas Filipinos welfare and protection reforms falls on Agenda 9 to 12 of the report such as; review the continued deployment of workers to countries, which are high-and medium-risk areas, and the continued deployment of workers in high-risk occupations. Policy reform in agenda # 9 focuses on reducing the deployment of low-skilled workers in countries where work prone to abuse and exploitation.
Agenda # 9 can only be realized if the Government will once and for all impose a ban in the deployment of Filipina Household Service Workers to countries where there are proven and ducumented rampant maltreatment, sexual harassment and abused.
Reform Agenda 10 focal points are employment opportunities and social protection. Areas of reforms are the creation of an efficient “one-stop” for processing applications for overseas work and seeking redress for grievances such as; the establishment of OWWA-NRCO Reintegration Centers or PESO and the creation of develop one-stop centers that can be used to help Filipinos find jobs in both the domestic and international scene.
On Agenda # 10, OWWA-NCRO or PESO are usually found in the city like Capitol building and offices located in provincial capitol or regions, PESO (Public Employment Service Offices) should also be visible or can be found in all Local Government Units in every municipality.
OFW grievances can be addressed by intensifying grievance mechanisms for OFWs in which this could be responded by 24/7 hotlines in partnership with telecommunication companies and the presence of migrant workers desk in different destinations.
In KSA alone, OFWs can not feel the presence of 24/7 hotlines. Although Philippine Embassy, Consulate and Philippine Overseas Labor Office announced the 24/7 telephone service for those OFW in needs of emergency help and those with grievences – WE still heard reports from OFW distressed callers that government officers are uncaring and unresponsive to OFW calls for help and support.
Migrant Workers Desk? Try at least one in Batha, Riyadh and one in Balad, Jeddah.
Agenda 11 is to audit the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to rationalize the management of its funds, in terms of the benefits provided as well as how the funds are invested. In response to the program, the department will see to it that the board of trustees is a multi-sectoral group that will truly work towards the protection of the interests of their respective groups.
As long as the criterion in terms of the nominee contribution to OFW sector is only 40%, WE, OFWs are not properly represented in the POEA and OWWA governing boards. We need a PRO-OFW who can truly serve the OFWs by heart.
Lastly, the Agenda 12 is to work with the DFA to transform Philippine embassies, consular offices and POLOs into centers of care and service for overseas workers by assigning more foreign service officers to posts where there are many OFWs and train them in the needs of the communities they serve. And to adopt a more holistic approach in ensuring the welfare and protection for OFWs.
Very simple and in other words, “make sure that there will be OFW-centered diplomatic posts and POLO offices worldwide.”
The succeeding agendas are more on reintegration (social welfare services, investment and savings program, skills training, etc.) and the Government’s comprehensive response in the implementation of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.