Lawmakers propose creation of OFW department

MANILA- Two committees of the House of Representatives have jointly created a technical working group to consolidate six bills proposing the creation of a Department for Overseas Filipino Workers (DOFW).

In a joint hearing, the Committee on Government Reorganization represented by its vice chairman, Manila Teachers Party-list Representative Virgilio Lacson, and the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs led by its chairman, Buhay Party-list Representative Mariano Michael Velarde, Jr., approved the motion of Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin to create the working group.

Lacson said the creation of a DOFW aims to promote the overall welfare, rights and needs of OFWs, which is a fitting recognition of the significant contribution of OFWs to national economic progress.

The members of the working group are Lacson, ACTS OFW Party-list Representative Aniceto Bertiz III, Kabayan Party-list Representaive Ron Salo and PBA Party-list Representative Mark Aeron Sambar.

The six proposals to establish a DOFW, defining its powers and functions are: House Bill 227 authored by Deputy Speaker Eric Singson; House Bill 288 by 1-PACMAN Party-list Representative Michael Romero; House Bill 543 by Pangasinan 3rd District Representative Rose Marie “Baby” Arenas; House Bill 822 by Bohol 3rd District Representative Arthur Yap ; House Bill 1936 by Las Piñas Representative Mark Villar and House Bill 2334 by Tarlac 1st District Representative Carlos Cojuangco.

The two committees also discussed House Bill 192 authored by Bertiz and House Bill 3255 by DIWA Party-list Representative Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, both seeking to create the Department of Migration and Development (DMD), which aims to implement and promote programs for the protection, safety, and development of all Filipino migrants and families.


Posted at Nov 11 2016 07:49 AM | Updated as of Nov 11 2016 08:58 AM


Binay to set up foundation for the needs of distressed OFWs

Riyadh, KSA: Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay arrived and tired from Qatar  fulfills his promise to met Filipino Community in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last Friday, April 1, 2011 at Liwasang Bonifacio ground of the Philippine Embassy,  to tackle OFW issues and concerns. But prior to that, Binay visited first the Bahay Kalinga (Filipino Workers Resource Center) to see for himself the real situation of the Filipina distressed workers housed in the mentioned shelter.

Philippine Delegation (seated): Alexander Aguilar of HDMF, former Agusan Del Sur Congressman Rodolfo "Ompong" Plaza, VP Jojo Binay & CDA Ezz Tago.

He vowed to create a foundation that could supplement to the needs of the distressed OFWs in emergency situation such as availability of  funds in securing tickets for immediate repatriation of those OFWs who have already the clearance to leave Saudi Arabia.

During the open forum, he was asked about why  there’s been such a long delay in making the appointment of a new Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom, Binay said “an appointment had already been made but  he can’t reveal it at the moment who the appointee was.” But it was noticed that the Vice President addressed Philippine Embassy Charge D’ Affaires Ezzedin Tago,  as “Ambassador”.  

Binay who is also the Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs, said that a technical committee in Manila was formed to review the issue of the host country’s temporary ban on deployment of Filipina Household Service Workers. The OFW Congress-Riyadh on the other hand presented to Vice President Binay a letter supporting the temporary ban and perhaps stops sending FHSW in the host country.

FilCom leaders Engr. Eli Mua, Gob Dimalotang, Alex Bello, Jhune Barbadillo

The letter expressed deep concern of our FHSW on their welfare and safety. There are more countless stories that can be shared by our “kababayans” which to them can no longer be erased and will just remain a traumatic experience that will hound them in the remaining years of their lives. The risks  is too much for us to take, although, we are aware that sending these domestic helpers here in the kingdom would somehow decrease the rate  of unemployment in the Philippines and will bring additional dollar remittances to the country  however, we should also try to weigh our concerns.” The letter also challenges the Philippine government and Filipino Community leaders in the kingdom, asking “which is bigger in scope and responsibility? The dollar remittances or their welfare and safety.”  The letter also includes,  expediting the status of those OFWs in Death Rows and working for a possible commutation of their death sentences.

Aside from labor matters, the Vice President is expecting to discuss trade and investment with officials of the Saudi government. The Philippine delegation led by Binay are former Senator Kit Tatad, former Philippine Congress representatives, Apolinario “Jun” Lozada of Negros Occidental and Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza of Agusan Del Sur, Jesus Varela and Alexander Aguilar of Home Development Mutual Fund, former Governor Ben Loong of Sulu, and Binay’s son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay –end-

True or Not, WE deserve to know

True or not, WE deserve to know

Riyadh, 7  October 2010 – Four Filipina nurse were abducted and allegedly victims of rape in two separate incidents, according to Filipino migrant rights group in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Alarmed with such incidents Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan-Middle East appeal to the Philippine Embassy to conduct an investigation regarding the gruesome details of the incident allegedly done to the Filipina nurses.

According to KGS chairperson Eric Jocson, who conducted their own investigation, the victims were Filipina nurses working in several hospitals in Riyadh. In the first case, announced by Jocson one of the victims works in Riyadh Kharj Hospital (RKH) also known as Riyadh Military Hospital.

Crime against woman: naked realities

Based on initial investigation, the nurse was among the passengers of the hospital bus service but she was left behind and decided to take a cab. While on the way to her accommodation, unidentified man blocked the cab and forced the victim to his car. The Filipina nurse was found later in the desert and in critical condition. It was learned that there was an indication that she was abused. After two weeks the victim died.

In the second case, according to Jocson, three Filipina nurses who work in the National Guard Hospital in the same city were walking from their accommodation to buy something at a nearby department store. According to the witnesses, a car suddenly stops and forced the three Filipina nurses into their car.

After few days, the three Filipinas were found in a remote area in the mentioned city. The shocking discovery showed signs that the victims were gang raped based on the initial medical examination results that there were lacerations on sensitive parts of their bodies. Suspects of this heinous series of acts to Filipina nurses are still at-large.

Engr. Faizal Sharque, Executive Council member of the OFW Congress-Riyadh, a group of Filipino Community organizations and leaders advocating OFW issues and concerns reminds everyone not only to Filipina nurses working in this oil rich region to refrain from going out at nights. “Nurses who are invited by other nationalities and even fellow Filipinos outside their accommodation during night in any given places and time should not accept invitation”,  Sharque said.

“We are not in Manila where you can just roam around and paint the town red”, he added.

Member organizations of OFW Congress are also requesting the Philippine Embassy to investigate this ghastly news around the Filipino Community.

“Our nurses are here because our country can’t provide job to thousands of nursing graduates each year; and they received such horrifying deaths in exchange for a dollar”, OFWC said.

OFWC added that “the Filipino community leaders in Riyadh sincerely appeals to the good Consul General Ezzedin Tago to look into this matter, true or not, Filipino deserve to know if this country is still safe to us OFWs. If it is true please seek justice on our behalf”.

Consul General Ezzedin Tago has been recently designated by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs as Charge D’Affaires, ad interim, of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh. He was the Consul General of the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah prior to his transfer in Riyadh.

In 2008, a rape case dubbed as “Rape on Christmas Eve” was the one greeted the good Consul General in the first days of his duty as Consul General in Jeddah, now, the same greetings in Riyadh in the first week of his duty.

Open Letter to Pres. Noynoy Aquino


Subject: Please include the  OFWs in your agenda for a real change

Mahal na Pangulo,

Ako po ay isang ordinaryong OFW sa bansang Saudi Arabia.  It so happen lang po na naging  isa sa mga lider-komunidad ng mga samahang Pilipino sa Riyadh.

Ako rin po ay naging isa sa inyong mga OFW volunteer nitong nakaraang halalan at convenor ng OFW4Noy24President Movement ( ) .

Labor Export


Hindi ko po alam kung mababasa po ninyo ito, pero ako po ay nagbakasakali na maihatid sa inyong tanggapan ang mga hinaing ng ating mga kababayan sa bansang Saudi Arabia. At maging ideya po ninyo sa mga tunay na nangyayari sa aming hanay. Sana po ay maging  guide po ninyo ito sa maaring hakbang  ng inyong  gobyerno sa pagtulong o pagbalangkas ng batas upang maalagaan ang aming karapatan bilang manggagawang Pilipino sa ibayong dagat.

Hindi po lingid sa inyong kaalaman ang mga hinaing ng mga OFWs lalo na po sa mga bansang sakop sa Gitnang Silangan. Isa napo rito ang pang-aabuso at pagmamaltrato sa ating mga kababaehang Domestic Helper o kasambahay. Nandiyan rin po ang rampant contract substitution na kung saan nababago ang kontrata pagdating sa kaharian.

Napakarami po ng problema namin dito na hindi agarang matugonan ng ating Konsulada at Embahada dahil na rin sa kakulangan ng mga staff na marunong o may alam sa Shariah Law, mga Arabic interpreter at sasakyang magagamit ng ating mga POLO/OWWA staff upang marating agad ang mga tulong sa mga kawawa po nating mga kababayan. Ang pagtalaga ng isang Labor Attache na may alam sa Shariah Law at may alam pati sa kultura at tradisyon ng mga bansa sa Gitnang Silangan.  Ang paglagay ng isang opisina o tanggapan sa paliparan ng kaharian upang ma dokumento ang lahat ng mga detalye ng isang OFW na parating sa kaharian, destinasyon nito, address, pangalan  ng amo ng  OFW  lalong lalo na po sa mga Filipina Domestic Helper.  Ang pag-buo ng isang committee na galing sa administrative department (Executive Branch of Government) ng ating pamahalaan upang mangasiwa sa pagbalangkas ng isang konkretong bilateral labor agreement na may ngipin at lakas upang mapangalagaan ang aming kalagayan, karapatan at kagalingan. Isang OFW Trust Fund from the office of the President, whatever you call it, na kung saan ito ay magagamit para lamang sa mga kinakailangan pinansyal sa mga kaso (labor or criminal case) at sa mga nakulong na kababayan at sa mga takas po naming mga kahanay.   

Ang mga nababangit sa itaas ay maging ganap lamang kung ang namumuno sa ating bansa ay may “political will” wika nga o may malasakit sa aming mga OFW.

Mr. President, WE know  the ever-increasing burdens  on your shoulder, the Filipino people has spoken, your victory in the last election has given  renewed hope and courage to all who have faith in the new government.  WE are asking you Mr. President to please include the  OFWs in your agenda for a real change.

Mahal na Pangulo, kalakip ng liham na ito ay ang mga sulat ng mga bisita na OFW sa  OFWEmpowerment Blog (  ) na kung saan makikita po ninyo ang tunay na mukha ng isang dumaraing na OFW. Ang sulat po na ito ay tatlo lamang sa mga napakaraming problema ng aming mga kahanay.

Siyanawa ay matutulongan mo po sila. Kami po ay umaasa.

Maraming Salamat Po!

Manuel A. Amora – OFW Riyadh

Hanggang Kailan – Until When..

Hanggang Kailan – Until When..

May of this year, news broke out that Saudi Arabia will stop hiring Indonesian workers that includes household helpers. The reason – the cost of recruiting labor from Indonesia is ridiculous. The Saudis spent SR 9000 in getting an Indonesian maid and Indonesian government also asked  for a  SR 375.00 increase of wage in all Indonesian workers coming to the Kingdom.  

On the other hand, Indonesian government banned their warm human bodies to work in Kuwait and up to now the two countries are still exchanging drafts of a Memorandum of Understanding that would help improve the conditions of Indonesian’s working in Kuwait. The Indonesian government promise to lift the ban if the requests to provide more protection of their nationals are written in the MoU.

Early of this year, there were rumors that Saudi government will likewise moving towards stopping the recruitment of housemaids coming from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam for alleged failures to supply qualified housemaids that suit the local culture and tradition.

L.T. Ariyawathi, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan maid

Probably this time it is not Saudi Arabia that will impose the ban but the Sri Lankan government should do the first move after what had happened to L.T. Ariyawathi, a 49-year-old Sri Lankan maid who complained of maltreatment and abused.

Ariyawathi x-rays have shown that she had 24 nails and needles in her body. “They (her employer and his family) did not allow me even to rest. The woman at the house had heated the nails and then the man inserted them into my body,”  Ariyawathi was quoted as saying in the Lakbima, a newspaper published in the local Sinhalese language.

Without Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam as a source of warm human bodies in the Saudi households, there will be more likely Filipina domestic helpers in every Saudi houses in the Kingdom. It means –  Philippine government is happy, the more OFW remittances, the better and merrier.

Believe me this countless sob stories of abused to our Filipina domestic helpers abroad will continue and surely there will be like  L.T. Ariyawathi if the Philippine Government could not come up with concrete measures to protect them.

 In 1998 Saudi Arabia and Philippines enter into less formal bilateral arrangements focused on household helpers such as: that overseas employers must guarantee the safety of the workers and provide human condition in the workplace, give them one day off a week, pay them overtime for work during Friday’s and grant them a two-week annual leave or 30 days upon completion of 2 years. However, we all knew that these agreements based on the mutually agreed employment contract never materialize when the workers arrived at site. The fact that there are many complaints and runaways  housed in Resource Centers and welfare centers in the Gulf countries, the so-called arrangement are not efficiently being implemented.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council passed a bill  to improve legal protections for the estimated 1.5 million domestic workers in the country, but the measure still falls short of international standards according to Human Rights Watch.

I, personally appeal to Rep. Carlos Padilla and to all the members of the House of the Representatives fact finding committee to move and let your recommendation proceed to the next level of talks among your peers.  A total ban on sending Filipino maids or domestic helpers to the Middle East is the right and concrete move.  

The recommendations was made last year by members of the fact-finding mission after they found out that many of the Filipino maids working in different places in the Middle East were being treated as slaves and were sexually and physically abused.

 “Kailan titigil ang pang-aabuso at kailan matatapos ang kalbaryo, ng mga taong hindi masagot ang mga tanong at walang lakas lumaban…. Hanggang Kailan”

OFW Forum in Industrial Area-Riyadh to tackle Saudi Labor Law

OFW Forum in Industrial Area-Riyadh to tackle Saudi Labor Law
By: Wizbone

19 January, 2010, RIYADH: Alarmed by many complaints on site from Filipino expatriate workers in the Kingdom, a Filipino community organization formed in 2002 in the Industrial Area of Riyadh are conducting a series of forum dubbed as “Know your Rights and Obligations as an OFW in the Kingdom”.

OFW Forum will be held this coming Friday, 22 of January 2010 in the New Islamic Center Auditorium, 2nd Industrial Area, Riyadh at 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Saudi Arabia (KAKAMPI-KSA) decides to re-convene the group task in educating fellow Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in the Kingdom on their rights and obligation as a visitor worker in this oil rich region.

Despite of work related complaints heard from OFWs, Saudi Arabia remained the favorite destination of OFWs comprising 19.8 percent of the total deployed Filipino contract workers around the globe.

Two hands pointing each other's direction is means Equality - “Rights and Obligations” (The Employer-Employee Relationship)

Bong Amora founder of KAKAMPI-KSA said “many of the newly deployed OFWs in Saudi Arabia are in culture shock more specifically on aspects where the host country’s culture, customs and traditions not congruent to the Philippine psyche.”

“The objective of this forum is to impart to OFWs, the Kingdom’s – Islamic Way of Life”. Amora added.

OFW Forum is a joint effort of KAKAMPI-KSA, the New Islamic Center, 2nd Industrial Area under the Directorship of Shk. Mohammad Bin Hamza Al Kurdi and the GUARDIANS NewHope Brotherhood International, Inc. (GNBII).

GNBII Riyadh Chapter  Founder  Luis Cabandez emphasized that “the general goal of the forum is to spread the word as we don’t want more Filipinos to experience what many of us went through in the country whose rules and regulations, policies and labor laws are very different from ours.” “The ultimate purpose of this forum is to guide our kababayans in the right direction as visitors and a foreign worker in the Kingdom.” Cabandez explained. GNBII-Riyadh is a chapter group of GNBII mother organization based in Jeddah.

OFW Forum will illustrate the proper remedial and concrete steps to consider in resolving work related problem on site as well as to avoid systemic constraints and risk of a labor dispute may bring to an OFW.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will educate OFWs about the Kingdom’s Saudi Labor Law. This is in line with POLO/OWWA “On-site Labor Education Program (OLEP)” not only in Riyadh but to other areas in Central and Eastern Region of the Kingdom especially to those places where there are large numbers of OFWs employed.

POLO/OWWA Riyadh is currently headed by Officer in-Charge, Assistant Labor Attache Atty. Cesar L. Chavez, Jr.

A new Labor Attache will be posted soon in Riyadh to replace out-going Labor Attache Resty Dela Fuente.

The Assistance to National Section (ANS) of the Philippine Embassy to be led by Vice Consul Roussel Reyes will also guide the participants regarding the proper procedure or action an OFWs can do to assist fellow OFW in distress, more importantly the run-away.

KAKAMPI-KSA in a statement said “We will also tackle the importance of interpreting the Saudi Labor Law, more particularly to its provisions where rights of OFWs are violated. The Forum also needs to identify recruitment crocodile agencies in the Philippines that only look into their own pocket and not the welfare of the OFWs they deployed.”

Some of the OFWs complain of contract substitution, delayed payment of salaries, poor living conditions, extension of work even after expiration of contract, non-payment of end of service benefits among others.

OFW Forum, “Know your rights and obligations as OFW’s in the Kingdom” is under the auspices of Philippine Embassy in Riyadh. ***


New Islamic Center (2nd Industrial Area-Riyadh)

OAV Internet Voting and OFW representation – Hoping for the best

OAV Internet Voting and  OFW representation – Hoping for the best

GFN (Global Filipino Nation) a group of a coalition of major Filipino expatriate organizations who drafted the insertion of internet registration and voting said that the proposed amendment of Republic Act 9189 known as Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003 is now pending in the Senate.  The bill contains the new version of allowing Internet voting for overseas Filipinos. 


Internet Vote - OFW Vote

GFN office in Manila spokesperson Connie Gomez Valdes in an email said that  “the bill was technically approved in the Committee on Constitutional Amendments headed by Sen. Chiz Escudero and is being passed around the tables of Senators Loren Legarda, Manuel “Mar” Roxas and  Noynoy Aquino for signature.  Once they have signed, it will be discussed in the Senate.”   

GFN advocates empowering global community of unified Filipinos to proactively participate in their motherland’s mainstream activities particularly the right to vote.  GFN is pursuing the passage of this amendment for the coming May 2010 elections.  GFN led convenor, Asian Leaders 2004 awardee  Mr. Vic Barrios and FilAm community leader Ernie Del Rosario are the two proponents who drafted the insertion of internet registration and voting in the proposed amendment. 

Called GFN Lead Harvesters, they appeal to global Filipinos to help lobbying or pushing for the passage of the amendment before the May 2010 election.   “Since we did not make it happen for the registration period, I appeal to everyone to please help us by writing letters to the senators and congressmen” said Connie Gomez Valdes.

 ”It would be good also to write to your consuls to make them aware that we are on top of the situation” she added.

Internet voting was successfully tested in Singapore last July 20 to August 8 which the Commission on Elections describes as “major step forward” towards the full modernization of Philippine elections.  Being a remote electronic system, OAVs can cast their votes from their homes, workplaces and cyber cafes and voting stations to be set up inside the Philippine embassy.  

Filipino community leader Rudy Nazruddin Dianalan based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and the main proponent of ”internet voting”  during the tripartite meeting of Filipino community in Saudi Arabia  said  “internet voting is the most practical method to maximize the participation of OAVoters in elections.”

Most Overseas Filipinos are far away from diplomatic posts and going to the nearest one to vote entails too much expenses. Like here in Saudi Arabia.  OFWs that are registered as absentee voters can only go either to the embassy in Riyadh or the consulate in Jeddah.

“Of more than one million OFWs in the kingdom, only about ten to fifteen percent are within reasonable distance to the two diplomatic posts here. Spread over a land area about five times larger than the Philippines, most OFWs do not have the means or the motivation to travel a long distance to cast their votes.”  Mr. Dianalan added.

Rudy Nazruddin Dianalan is among called by OFWs in Saudi Arabia to represent the OFWs in the Senate.  Filipino community is hoping that major Philippine political parties will include OFW stalwarts in their Senate slate.

“Assuming a crack at the senate, my advocacy shall center on the protection of OFWs from recruitment to worksite, the welfare of their families left back home, strengthening the ties of Overseas Filipinos to the Philippines and their reintegration, and enhancing a global Filipino nation.” He said.

Mr. Dianalan is the Chairman Emeritus of KASAPI,   duly recognized federated and coalesced alliance of Filipino community organizations in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  He was one of those who hardly fought that  OFWs should be represented in Congress.  

Among the names eyed to represent OFWs is Susan “Toots” Ople, the daughter of the late Sen. Blas F. Ople.

She served in the Senate in 1987 as media relations officer of Senator Ernesto Herrera.  In 1989, the Citizens’ Drug Watch Foundation was created with Herrera as president and Susan as executive director.  When the late Sen. Ople was designated Foreign Affairs Secretary, he brought Susan with him as chief of staff.  It was during her stint at the DFA that Susan became deeply involved in human trafficking and OFW cases.  In 2004, after  Senator Ople  died, Susan Ople was appointed Undersecretary of Labor and Employment.

Since the 1970s, the issue of Overseas Filipino Workers welfare has become one of the primary concerns of the government. However, in spite of efforts to provide protection, benefits, and programs to address their welfare, there are still many OFWs that have become victims of various circumstances and abuses from their foreign employers.

In 1992, the Party List Act of the Philippines was signed into law.  However, the implementing rules of the Party List Act came very late and the  then newly elected President, Fidel V. Ramos, appointed party-list representatives from several recognized sectors, like labor, business, cooperatives, teachers, OFWs, and others.

Ramos also appointed two OFW sectoral representatives in Congress, from the ranks of  OFWs  in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  

But many say the failure of OFW sectoral representation in Congress was because the representation itself did not enjoy the mandate of the OFW sector they are supposed to represent.

In 1995 up to now many OFW party lists tried their luck to participate in the last elections, not even one of them  garnered the mandatory requirement in number of votes needed to be able to nominate a representative to Congress. 

Now, that unity is too elusive to achieve, the OFWs will try the upper House of Philippine Congress, the Senatehoping for the best.  

By: Bong Amora

Related Post : The continuing saga towards OFW Empowerment

Pass the Senate and House Bill amending R.A. No. 8042


Speaker Prospero C. Nograles consults with leaders of the various Filipino communities in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who raised, among others, the need for faster facilitation by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration of services relative to OFW Welfare, and licensure renewals by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC). The Speaker, together with his official delegation composed of Deputy Speaker Simeon Datumanong, Reps. Munir Arbison, Yusop Jikiri, Nur Jaafar and Mujiv Hataman, have assured the OFW leaders that their concerns, including better OFW representation abroad, will be taken into consideration and their suggestions be thoroughly studied. The common sentiment is to strengthen OWWA's programs and be more responsive to the needs of OFWs. Additional OWWA action desks in embassies and consulates are also being pursued. Saudi Arabia is the second home of more than one million Filipinos.

Philippine lawmakers are expected to arrive in Riyadh on November 5, 2009. They are on their working trip to Middle East for a series of consultation meeting with Filipino Community, Philippine Embassy officials and Philippine government agencies overseeing the plight of OFWs.

They are members of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) to conduct congressional hearing among Filipino Community leaders in Riyadh on issues concerning  OFW grievances and complains. 

However, as of this writing, I haven’t yet heard from fellow community leaders of an invitation from Philippine Embassy/POLO/OWWA  to attend such important event. The visiting lawmakers are Representatives Luz Ilagan, Carlos Padilla, and Rufus Rodriquez.

The House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) has the jurisdiction to tackle all matters directly and principally relating to policies and programs on the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers and their families.  The 14th Congress COWA is Chaired by Rep. Manuel  Zamora consisting  35 Committee members namely:  Five Vice Chairman, Lagman, Edcel, Gatchalian, Rex, Labadlabad, Rosendo and Romulo, Roman. Members of the Majority are Magsaysay, Ma. Milagros,De Guzman, Del , Estrella, Conrado III,Bichara, Al Francis,San Luis, Edgar,Sy-Alvarado, Ma. Victoria,Robes, Arturo,Roman, Herminia,Chong, Glenn,Codilla, Eufrocino Sr.,Alcala, Proceso,Cajayon, Mary Mitzi,Amatong, Rommel,Bonoan-David, Ma. Theresa, Dela Cruz, Jonathan, and Arroyo, Ma. Lourdes. For the Minority are Ilagan, Luzviminda,Villanueva, Emmanuel Joel, and Hataman, Mujiv.

If Philippine Embassy will invite me to the consultation/hearing and be given a chance to talk in front of the Honorable Lady and Gentlemen from the Philippine House of Representative, I will lobby for the immediate approval of House Bill 05649 or  Senate Bill 3286 and it should be signed into law before the May 2010 election.  

House Bill 05649:  “The Standards of Protection and Assistance For Migrant Workers Act” is an act guarantees the protection of the rights of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are to be deployed only in countries where labor and social laws protecting workers’ rights, adherence to conventions, declarations and resolutions, and bilateral agreements or arrangements are existing and guaranteed. Principal author of the bill is Rep. Manuel Zamora. It was approved on 2nd Reading dated 2009-02-03 and approved on third reading dated 2009-02-04 with the followingvotes Yes = 127, No = 0, Abstain = 0.

The abovementioned bill is a counterpart bill under Senate Bill 3286 known as an “Act amending R.A. No. 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers Act of 1995, as amended, further improving the standard of protection and promotion of the Welfare of Migrant Workers, their Families and Overseas Filipino Workers in Distress and for other purposes.”  The legislative status of the bill is for recommendation for approval pending before the  “Senate and House Conference Committee” since August 17, 2009.

Above House Bill 05649 is a consolidated bill substituting the following House Bills:

HB00628 –  “Establishment of a legal attaché office in every country in the Middle East to provide free legal assistance to Filipino migrant workers in need of legal aid or in crisis or difficult situation”. The bill was authored by Rep. Judy Syjuco.

HB00700 – “Act Setting Higher Standards of Protection of Migrant Workers”. Authored by Rep. Rexlon Gatchalian, the bill prohibits the issuance of a work permit to a country where there is no existent guarantee for the protection of the rights of migrant workers.  Bill Status: House agreed to the request for a conference made by the Senate.

HB00769 – “An Act Setting Higher Standards of Protection of Migrant Workers and their Families”. Authored by Rep. Arthur Pingoy, Jr. The proposed bill is an act to institute policies of Overseas Employment and establish higher standards of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and Overseas Filipinos in distress.

HB04783 – “An Act Improving the Protection of Migrant Workers, amending for the Purpose Section 4 of R.A. No. 8042. The bill was principally authored by Rep. Edgardo Chatto.

HB00699 – “Act Providing for the Selection of Additional Memberships in the Boards of the POEA and the OWWA, amending for such Purpose Republic Act 8042. Authored by Rep. Rexlon Gatchalian.

There are 41 House Bills and Resolutions currently referred to the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) found at Philippine House of Representative official website.  Several  of this House Bills seek to amend R.A. 8042 known as Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.  These bills are currently on hold pending deliberations and approval by both the House and the Senate.

Relevant House Bills intended for the promotion, welfare and protection of Overseas Filipinos are the following:

NO. HB00819 – Principal author:  Rep. Judy Syjuco. The bill provides for the abolition of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and for the transfer of their functions to the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers. Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION.

NO. HB03115 – Principal Author: Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Jr. “Overseas Domestic Helpers Act”, the bill aims to determine the countries where maltreatment and abuse of overseas Filipino workers is rampant and to ban their development to these countries. Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS.

NO. HB04310 – Principal author Re. Narciso Santiago III. “Migrant Worker’s Retirement Act of 2008” establishes a retirement fund that shall provide social security protection to OFWs and their beneficiaries for contingencies resulting in loss of income due to inability to find another employment overseas due to old age, disability and/or sickness. Principal Author Rep. Rexlon Gatchalian, co-authored by Rep. Narciso Santiago III, Rep. Arnulfo Go. Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS.

NO. HB04845 – Principal author: Rep. Narciso Santiago, III. “Left-Behind Households of OFWs Act of 2008”, that seeks the establishment of OFW family centers that shall provide welfare assistance and counseling services to the families left-behind by OFWs. Also directs the OWWA to develop a program for the re-unification and reintegration of returning OFWs. Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS.

NO. HB05621 – Principal Author:  Rep Rufus Rodriguez. “Overseas Contract Workers Insurance Act”, seeks to protect and ensure the welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) by providing them compulsory welfare insurance program in addition to the benefits being provided by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS.  

NO. HB05657 – Principal author: Rep. Satur Ocampo. “An act expanding Legal Services to Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos in Distress”. Seeks to expand the legal assistance the Philippine government presently extends to migrant workers and overseas Filipinos, both documented and undocumented, in distressful situations abroad, particularly those who are incarcerated in the Middle East on account of lack of access to Shariah lawyers and other specific legal concerns. Bill Status: Pending with the Committee on OVERSEAS WORKERS AFFAIRS. *End*

By: Bong Amora

Read Related Postings:   

Proposed Amendment of R.A. 8042 

Amend R.A. 8042 

Migrant Workers Day – Nothing to Celebrate  

OFW’s opposed newly appointed OWWA Board

The OFW Journalism Consortium: A Reader’s View

The OFW Journalism Consortium: A Reader’s View

(click OFJCI Logo to view their Site

(click OFJCI Logo to view their Site

AMONG my peers, there seems to be a common observation in the reporting of any kind of news that media generally shows bias for sensational stories that whet the reading public’s appetite for such accounts but which incidentally also sells newspapers, broadsheets and tabloids.
News reportage on Filipino migrants is no exception.

Stories about overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) coming home in coffins, jumping out of the windows, committing suicides, of rape, torture, and other forms of maltreatment in foreign shores, continue to dominate our daily newspapers. One has to find balance and variety in reporting of this or any kind of news.

For one like myself engaged in advocacy for migrant empowerment, I continue to wonder; given that we have an estimated 10 million of our fellow citizens working and making a living overseas, there must be and, indeed, there should be success stories and other development-oriented diaspora activities initiated by migrants all over the world that mirror their sacrifices and continued love for their origin countries.

However, if one has not scoured papers, studies and reports, or participate in conferences of development, international and multilateral agencies, academic and research institutions, which monitor, support, assist or enhance these activities, the public remains unaware of the important contributions to the economic, cultural and human capital made by migrants to their countries of origin, and the enormous challenges that had to be surmounted by people who once upon a time made a momentous decision to migrate.

Which brings me to the work of the OFW Journalism Consortium, a small band of journalists who in the last few years since their formal organization, chose to focus on development-oriented migration journalism, bringing to the public stories, reports, and even person-to-person accounts, that may well have escaped our notice.

I am quite sure the OFWJC’s brand of journalism has enhanced the public’s level of awareness on core issues, concerns and challenges of Philippine migration, diaspora activities that highlight the overseas Filipinos’ love for their native land and, at the same time, has pointed out to policymakers where reforms should be directed.

As a migrant advocate since 1999 to the present, I know of no other media group, here or elsewhere, that is engaged in this type of journalistic work regarding migrants.

Their reports have often been quoted or cited not only in academic papers but even by local and foreign newspapers. Perhaps, these are indications their decision a few years ago to focus on migrant issues was a wise one.

Well, they don’t sell newspapers –they only write and report these stories.

If that is not commitment, I don’t know what is. end

Editor’s note: The author is president of the nonprofit Economic Resource Center for Overseas Filipinos (Ercof), and plays the bass guitar and keyboards.

Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development

Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development

A conference of Filipino organizations in the Netherlands entitled “Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development” will be held on November 2, 2007. Prior to the said conference the participants will be having a preliminary conference on October 29 to 30 dubbed as “The Filipino Expert’s Meeting”.



The general objective of the conference is to develop a common agenda towards harnessing the development potentials of migration and underline the importance of the contribution of the migrant and overseas Filipinos to the development of the Philippines, emphasizing the better use of their remittances, skills and acquired knowledge.

The participants will include Filipino organizations, especially those involved in development projects, other migrants groups based in the Netherlands and Dutch institutions concerned with migration and development. Representatives of Filipino networks from other European countries as well as from North America, Asia, Middle East and from the Philippines is also part of the conference.

Filipino resource persons will shed light on the current situation of the Philippines on a number of relevant themes related to migration and development. A Panel of Reactors composed of migrant and overseas Filipinos will share their specific responses and current initiatives.



Invited guest include Senator Kiko Pangilinan to speak on the role and impact of the contribution of the Filipino diaspora to the development of the Philippines. Ms. Djahlia Sitti, of the Moro Human Rights Center, a young Moro leader, will focus on the role of women in development within the context of peace-building. Writer, poet and artist Ms Mila D. Aguilar will share her insights on the evolution of Filipino culture, the current challenges in the Philippines and entrepreneurial mass movement as a response. Congressman Mujib Hataman, Anak Mindanao Party list representative will share his view on good governance in the light of the current situation of the Bangsa Moro people.



Other invited speakers are; Dovelyn Rannveig Agunias of Migration Policy Institute, Washington , DC, Leila Rispens-Noel Programme Officer, Popular Campaigning Oxfam Novib, The Netherlands, Mai Anonuevo Atikha, Philippines and Prof. Rolando G. Talampas University of the Philippines.

Guests includes Burgemeester Job Cohen the Mayor of Amsterdam, H.E. Ambassador Romeo A. Arguelles, Philippine Embassy and Minister Bert Koenders of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Alex Veloso Bello, the President of OFW Congress-Riyadh is representing OFWs from Middle East.

The conference is a project of Habagat Foundation in cooperation with Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland, Bisayang Daku Network and core-OFW.

Habagat is a foundation put up in 1993 by Dutch citizens of Filipino origin, specifically from Mindanao. It believes in the potentials of the migrants as agents of change and development both in their countries of origin as well as in their host countries. This vision has been reflected in its lobby and advocacy efforts in synergy with various migrant and overseas Filipino networks. It has also initiated and supported development projects both in the Philippines and other developing countries, like Nepal. Its partners include migrant organizations and migrant-related institutions both in the Netherlands and elsewhere. On top of this, it has closely monitored the Mindanao situation. Aside from peace-information drives for Mindanao in the past almost 20 years, it has sent a Peace Delegation to the Philippines in December 2006 in partnership with the Multicultural Women Peacemakers Network in the Netherlands.

Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland or Damayan was registered as an organization of Filipino migrants in 1986. It is committed among others, to support initiatives of people’s organizations in the Philippines as well as to facilitate exchanges between Dutch organizations and Philippine-based groups. It has conducted and supported campaigns on migrant rights, social participation and integration as well as rallied against trafficking of women and violence at home. It has participated in various migrant lobby and advocacy work like the Absentee-Voting, Ratification of the UN Convention for the Protection of the Rights of the Migrants and their Families. Currently, in close cooperation with the local government of Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental and in partnership with community-based organizations, it has started the project Maria Goes To Town -this is establishing a market place functional to a number of neighboring villages. At the same time, it has supported a number of children to school, again in cooperation with the local governments, people’s organizations and public school officials in North Cotabato and Davao areas.

The Bisayang Daku Network or BisDak NL was established in early 1990’s among the Visayan-speaking migrant Filipinos in the Netherlands.. It has organized benefit activities to provide an occasion for the Filipino to meet and promote Filipino culture. Through these activities, BisDak raises funds for small-scale community projects in Southern Philippines.

The core-Overseas Filipinos Worldwide (Core-OFW) is a think tank of concerned individuals, migrant organizations, NGOs and other members of civil society based in Philippines, USA and Europe, each with different fields of expertise and affiliations. Its activities are facilitated by those based in the Netherlands where some of its active members come from.


For this entry and information, my heartfelt thanks to the Conference Secretariat headed by Grace Cabactulan, Habagat Foundation, Chairperson Stichting Habagat and Basco Fernandez of the Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland.

Global Filipino Nation for Effective Governance

International Conference

“Building the Global Filipino Nation for Effective Governance”

May 8-11, 2008




Former  Gen. Comendador  & Mr. Mike Bolos

Former Gen. Comendador & Mr. Mike Bolos

Over a period of more than one year starting in early 2006, various organizations in the overseas Filipino community have proposed to hold an international conference in 2008 to mobilize overseas Filipinos (OFs), their families and groups aligned with them into a force for governance change. As a result of a series of consultative exchanges among Filipino leaders at home and abroad, the focus evolved into the agreed theme of “Building the Global Filipino Nation for Effective Governance“, planned to be taken up during an International Conference on May 8-11, 2008.

The Attendees

The Attendees

The initial group of about a dozen potential planning conference participants quickly expanded to include a list of over 5 dozen participants, affiliated with more than 60 stakeholder organizations, who expressed keen interest in actively participating in the planning conference. The diversity of the backgrounds, ideologies and goals of the participants made the conference management a seemingly daunting task, with representation among the academe, think tanks, peasant groups, labor, media, grassroots organizers, business, banking and investments, consulting, OFW/migrant rights advocacy, youth, indigenous peoples, foundations and law. It was felt that, while having a large group planning the conference posed a challenge in maintaining manageability, a greatly enlarged circle of participants could pave the way for much broader range of committed stakeholders. It was against that backdrop that a whole-day Planning Conference was held on July 28, 2007 at the AIM Conference Center, Makati City.

The Group

The Group

The Planning Conference organizers wish to extend their deep appreciation to all of those who were directly involved with the preparation for the conference, contributed valued inputs to the logical frameworks for the conference modules, extended networking assistance, actively led or participated in the plenary sessions and workshops, offered insightful comments, rendered rapporteurial support and provided financial support. 

Special thanks are owed to the efficient Conference Secretariat, led by Mesdames Lanie B. Aquino and Nelia Lim.

Taken From: Aide Memoire: July 28, 2007, Planning Conference on: Building the Global Filipino Nation for Effective Governnance.

Open Letter of Appeal to Pres. GLoria M. Arroyo

Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

Dear Madam President:

We are writing to you today to raise our concern over the continued appreciation of the peso to a level which is now hurting each and every one of us Overseas Filipinos and our families.

The following realities will help you appreciate the predicament we are in:

1) While our salaries during the last few years remained the same, our cost of living here in the Kingdom, like anywhere else, have increased.  This means less income available for remittance to our families back home;

US Dollar

US Dollar

2) The situation became worse when the peso appreciated from 55 to 45 versus US dollar during the last ten months.  The continued peso appreciation effectively reduced the value of our remittances by an average of 18%;

3) On the other hand the rising prices of commodities back home, which ironically should have decreased due to the strengthening of the peso, aggravated further the already worsening situation;

4) We estimate that with the 18% reduction in the value of our remittances plus, say a 10% increase in household expenses of families back home, an OFW who used to remit $300 monthly, will now have to send $405 to maintain his family’s current living standard. To be able to do this, he will have to work longer hours and/or tighten his belt.

5) For those of us who have planned to go back home for good within the next couple of years, will now have to reconsider our plans, and might have to extend our stay here in the Kingdom for a few more years.

Philippine Peso

Philippine Peso

We believe that a strong peso will help improve our country’s balance of payments, and allow the government to service the country’s debts at a lower cost.  However, we also believe that the gains the government will earn from its debt servicing agreements must not be at the expense of those providing those benefits.  It must not be at the expense of us Overseas Filipinos and our families.

We therefore respectfully request your good Office to look into ways and means to mitigate the negative impact of the continuing dollar decline on our remittances. Please ask the appropriate officials in your cabinet to study how the following alternatives may be implemented:

A.    Special exchange rate for OFW remittances:

B.     Peg the Peso – Dollar exchange rate at P50 to $1;

C.    Creation of an OFW Stabilization Fund, like the one proposed for the export sector;

D.    Provision of incentives or rewards based on the amount of OFW remittance, in order to encourage OFWs to continue remitting the same amount to their families.

We believe that with enough political will, your good Offices will be able to find a solution to this problem which is most equitable to all affected parties.

Thank you for your time, and may God bless you and your family.

Respectfully Yours,