Manila: A proposal requiring the Philippine government to publish a guide for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) has been approved in the Senate.
The proposed handbook for OFWs, under Senate Bill 192, will contain important information that serves as a guide to being a Filipino migrant worker.
“We want to equip our OFWs with the necessary information they can access once they are out there in the global marketplace,” Senator Manny Pacquiao, a proponent of the measure, said.
The handbook will serve as a reference for OFWs in addressing their problems and concerns so that they will not be in the dark when they go out of the country.
“The handbook aims to serve as their ready reference if and when they need to assert their rights as overseas employees,” Pacquiao said.
The measure, was passed with 18 affirmative votes, zero negative votes and zero abstention by the 24 member Senate recently.
Pacquiao said it is the obligation of government to take care of the millions of OFWs all over the world, “by providing them with standard printed information.”
Under the measure, it will be the obligation of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to publish and regularly update the handbook. It will be written in simple language with translation in native dialects that the OFWs can readily understand.
Pacquiao said the OFW handbook, which is awaiting a counterpart measure in the House of Representatives before it can be sent to President Rodrigo Duterte for approval, could help curb human trafficking, noting many OFWs had fallen prey to abuse abroad because the victims were unaware of their rights.
Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labour, Employment, and Human Resources Development and co-author of the measure, cited the importance of the OFW handbook especially to Filipinos employed as domestic workers.
“In the face of increasing numbers of abuses against OFWs, perhaps, we can go back to the basics by equipping our workers abroad with the right information at the right time, and in the right way,” Villanueva said.
Aside from Pacquiao and Villanueva, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Senator Richard Gordon are also as co-authors of the measure.
Under the bill, the POEA would be mandated “to develop, publish, disseminate and update periodically a handbook on the rights and responsibilities of migrant workers as provided by Philippine laws and the existing labour and social laws of the receiving country that will protect and guarantee the rights of migrant workers.”