Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza on Thursday stood firm in his position that government should give the country’s millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) the importance and recognition that they rightfully deserve.
“We have received numerous complaints from our hardworking OFWs regarding the long wait and procedures from the Bureaus of Immigration and Customs that they have to undergo everytime they return to the country. They still do not get the welcome they deserve.
What’s worse is that they become targets of unscrupulous taxi drivers as soon as they leave the airport. I also call on the Philippine National Police [PNP] to provide special attention and assistance to our OFWs to deter any would-be muggers or robbers who see them as easy prey,” Atienza said.
He recently filed House Resolution 1735 which seeks to give our OFWs the importance and gratitude they so rightly deserve considering the sacrifice they are making for their families and the enormous impact that their dollar remittances have on the country’s economy. It also strongly urges the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and airport authorities to immediately provide special red carpet lanes in all our international airports for all OFWs coming home for a vacation or for good, starting this Christmas and as a regular way of welcoming them home thereafter, as an expression of the nation’s gratitude for their being part of the country’s biggest industry that is essentially keeping the economy afloat.
In other cities around the world, returning overseas workers and citizens are given top priority upon their arrival at their airports.
Atienza cited his own experience in New York where, although he and several other tourists were already lined up at an immigration counter, it was announced that several planes carrying US workers and citizens had arrived and as such, everyone was requested to step aside to give priority to these returning citizens.
“We understood that they wanted to welcome their own citizens. Why should we not do the same. Returning and vacationing OFWs should be allowed to breeze through Customs and Immigration to allow them to leave the aiport as soon as possible and be reunited with their families,” Atienza added.