News Release – January 22,
Reference: Bayan Muna Rep. Satur C. Ocampo, 0917.8226184
For more information: Vince Borneo, Media Relations Officer, 0927.7968198
Amend law to expand legal services for OFW protection in the Middle
East – Satur
House Deputy Minority Leader Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) wants to amend
Republic Act No. 8042 otherwise known as the Migrants Act of 1995 that is
the government benchmark for the protection of our overseas Filipino
“Our OFWs keep our national economy afloat. Filipino migrant workers and
immigrants have consistently sent remittances to the homeland that reached
US$14.45 billion in 2007, with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)
forecasting yearend remittances to hit more than US$16 billion for 2008. I
find it only fair that government reciprocate these contributions in many
ways such as immediately expanding the legal assistance it extends to
migrant workers and overseas Filipinos, both documented and undocumented,
in distressful situations abroad,” Ocampo said.
The militant solon filed House Bill 5657 (An Act Expanding Government
Legal Services to Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos in Distress,
Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 8042 or the “Migrant Workers and
Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995”) to expand the scope and upgrade the
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) program to provide full legal
assistance to our migrant workers and overseas Filipinos in distress.
“Republic Act 8042 was enacted to protect and promote the welfare of
migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress. But
more than a decade after its passage into law, R.A. 8042 urgently needs
major improvements if it even were to uplift the 10 million Filipinos
working and/or residing overseas,” Ocampo said.
House Bill 5657 also aims to establish a Legal Attaché Office in each
country in the Middle East region under the direct supervision of the DFA.
The office will be in charge of providing full and appropriate legal
assistance to migrant workers and migrants in distress in the respective
areas of responsibility of the post.
“The current law is riddled with loopholes that need to be plugged. Our
bill aims to streamline and expand legal services to cover all documented
and undocumented OFWs in distress facing any type of case on-site and in
the pursuit of civil, administrative, criminal, labor and welfare cases
against foreign and local recruitment principals and responsible
government officials among others,” Ocampo said.
The OFW group Migrante International reports that more than 5,000 overseas
Filipinos are languishing in jails worldwide while the DFA cites the
particularly distressing situation of Filipinos incarcerated in the Middle
East owing to their lack of access to Shariah lawyers among many other
specific legal concerns. #
Migrants ask for genuine
800 more OFWs retrenched in Taiwan
While the government is boasting off more job openings for Filipinos
abroad, more than 800 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were retrenched in
Taiwan this month alone according to a global alliance of migrants groups.
Migrante International Deputy Secretary General Gina Gaborni urged the
government to act immediately to protect the labor rights of and give
genuine immediate relief to the retrenched workers.
Martinez said some of these OFWs were intimidated into signing agreements
that were disadvantageous to them. He also said that as more and more OFWs
are retrenched, the more it is getting harsher for them.
He cited the case of 161 retrenched OFWs from Walton Advanced Engineering
Inc who were threatened by a Taiwanese broker that they would not get any
separation pay, provision for food and airfare to the Philippines should
they refuse to sign the agreement.
Apart from these, they have to pay 20 percent of income tax as they have
only stayed in Taiwan for less than 183 days as stated in the Ministry of
Finance's policy. Unfortunately, most of the retrenched workers in Taiwan
were employed for only four to six months.
Migrante also recorded 162 retrenched OFWs from Inotera, 127 from Tripod,
62 from Ichia Technology, 42 from Chipmos, 32 from Sintek plus 400 more
from different Taiwanese companies.
Gaborni said the rate of retrenchment is so alarming and may go over the
11,000 retrenchment projection of OFWs by Taiwan's Council of Labor
Gaborni called on the Arroyo administration to stop promising jobs abroad
and open its eyes to the real conditions of OFWs. "The government should
instead protect and defend the labor rights of retrenched OFWs rather than
giving false hopes via jobs abroad," Gaborni said.
He also slammed the so-called livelihood program for OFWs affected by the
global financial crisis as nothing but a bogus program since it was
designed in a way no OFW can afford.
On December 4, 2008, Presidente Arroyo signed Administrative Order 248,
allocating P250 million OWWA fund for expatriate workers. However,
Martinez said not a single OFW has been helped by the program.
"In reality, only 10% or P5,000 of the allotted P50,000 for each
expatriate worker is available, the rest are in goods. And before anyone
can benefit from the program, one has to attend seminars, trainings, draw
a feasibility study for a livelihood program plus other requirements,"
He also urged the Congress to investigate and prosecute the rampant
overcharging of placement fees for outbound OFWs by recruitment agencies
and some government officials.
"It seems like the so-called 'modern day heroes' and 'lifeline of our
economy' are also the milking cows of private recruitment agencies in
cahoots with corrupt government officials," Gaborni ended.###
2 February 2009
GABRIELA PARTY-LIST, RETRENCHED OFWS FILES ‘UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT
REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
Abby Valenzuela (Public Information Officer) 0915-7639619
Gabriela Women's Party, Migrante International and OFW-victims of
retrenchment in Taiwan, filed a bill today aiming to create an
“unemployment benefit package” amounting to a lump sum of P50,000 for the
overseas workers displaced by the global financial crisis.
The package will be funded by a “contingency fund” from the national
budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and
Employment, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Bureau of
“An act allocating a contingency fund as unemployment benefit for overseas
Filipino workers who have been repatriated due to expiration of contract
or retrenchment,” the bill is geared towards providing permanent
assistance not only for migrant workers laid off and to be laid off by the
current crisis, but also for the OFWs who will lose their jobs after the
Data from DOLE showed more than 4,000 Filipino workers around the world
have already lost their jobs and are coming back to the country, though
Migrante International say it far exceeds that number.
“This package is the government's way to give back to the OFWs it has
relied on and slaved on for the longest time to prop up the economy,”
“Aside from providing assistance being the responsibility of the
government through its different departments, the OFWs have already paid
for their repatriation costs with the exorbitant fees charged to them
every time they leave the country, such as the $25 OWWA membership fee,”
Abegail Rose L. Valenzuela
Public Information Officer
Office of Rep. Luzviminda C. Ilagan
Gabriela Women's Party
SW-601 House of Representatives,
12 February 2009
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson
Mobile No: 0909217229740
Migrante:COMELEC exactions on passports Spell Extortion for OFWs
In a time of such a severe crisis, how can the government have the still
have the guts to squeeze more funds from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)?
This was the question raised by the largest global alliance of migrant
Filipino groups, Migrante International.
In a protest in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) buliding
in Pasay City, members of Migrante International denounced the
government's continuing implementation of requiring a voter's registration
certificate for anyone who wants to get a Philippine passport.
"This is clearly another burden and an additional cost to aspiring OFWs as
one has to pay P75 to the Comission on Elections before applying for a
passport," Migrante Chairperson Garry Martinez said.
Martinez said they have received numerous complaints from aspiring OFWs
regarding the requirement. He stated that this violates the rights to
travel and shows the government's dictatorial tendency.
He also scored the P250 overtime fee being charged by the DFA for every
passport being processed during Saturdays.
Martinez said this and other exorbitant fees only illustrate the
government's shameless act to haul in more funds from Filipino citizens.
This will particularly affect OFWs who are already reeling more than P17,
000 state fees they have to pay for required documents.
"P75 multiplied by the number of OFWs who leave daily (4,200) is equal to
an additional P315,000 daily income for the government," Martinez said.
"This amount will steeply increase when one factors in the other Filipino
travelers who use passports."
mentioned it was just a humble estimate as the DFA's goal is to increase
the number from 3,500 to 10,000 passports per day.
Martinez also revealed that the aggressive efforts of the DFA to provide
passports is but a part of the government's labor export policy as it
particularly targets OFWs. It must be remembered that the Arroyo's
government's response to the crisis is to sell more OFWs.
"From January to November, 2008, 236 mobile passport services were
establishedcarry out resulting to 87,612 passports within 10 months. Right
now, the DFA is planning to establish five more regional consular offices.
With the crisis, the only ones interested to travel are the very rich or
the OFWs who are desperately ready to gamble on a life working like slaves
abroad rather than suffer through the crunching poverty here," he said.
Meanwhile, migrants in Italy have marched in front of the Philippine
Embassy to protest the unreasonable increase of consular fees.
In an open letter to President Arroyo, Migrante-Italy expressing their
opposition to "the newly implemented increase of fees including the
passport because it is arbitrary, anomalous, undemocratic and unjust since
we were not informed neither consulted prior to its approval."
Migrante reiterated its message to the Arroyo government: Stop additional
and exorbitant state exactions. "Instead of squeezing OFWs dry, Arroyo
should focus on creating jobs in the country. Mrs. Arroyo is hell bent in
courting rich countries to sell out OFWs just to save her bankrupt
economic policies," Martinez ended.####