• Caring for our overseas workers

    3

    THE Philippine Ambassadors Foundation Inc.  (PAFI)  received a special award at the last Overseas Filipino Workers Gawad Parangal held last 12 December 2015 at the Pag-ibig Fund, Justine Building, Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City under the auspices of the
    Kapisanan ng mga Kamag-anak at Migranteng Manggagawang Pilipino Inc. (KAKAMPI).

    It was a well-attended, multi-sectoral affair. There were luminaries from government such as POEA Administrator Hanz Leo J. Cacdac, from civil society such as the Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, former Senator Richard Gordon, from the entertainment industry such as Dingdong Dantes and Maricel Soriano, and from the diplomatic corps such as Ricardo R. Casco of the International Organization of Migration.

    I had the honor to represent and receive the award for PAFI as its Vice President and Project Coordinator for the PAFI Symposium on Migration, Peace, and Development and other migration-related activities of the organization.

    According to its Constitution and By-Laws, PAFI serves (1) to study, analyze, and discuss international and domestic affairs to contribute to the formulation and adoption of a  sound and realistic foreign policy for the Philippines, (2) to promote awareness of issues of foreign policy through conferences, seminars, and other workshops between and among diplomats of the Philippines and those assigned to the Philippines while enhancing international understanding, friendship, and cooperation, and (3) to encourage, solicit, and facilitate the active participation of domestic and foreign organizations in the activities of the organization. In short, the avowed purpose of PAFI is to promote the national interest in the country’s international relations.

    Actually, it was the need to protect their nationals abroad that impelled states to establish diplomatic and consular missions abroad. The protection of Filipinos abroad has always been a cardinal function of the Philippine foreign service. But the phenomenal increase of Filipinos working abroad since the 1970s and the immense current and potential benefits they can and do bring to the Philippine economy has led the country to give particular attention to the protection of Philippine migrant workers. It has thus become the third pillar of Philippine foreign relations.

    The Philippine has been a leading advocate in the international scene of migrant workers rights and was among the countries that championed the establishment of the UN Convention on the Promotion of the Rights of Migrants, their Families and Dependents.

    PAFI, for its part, has made migrant workers issues, especially as they pertain to and affect Philippine foreign policy, a core interest and concern.

    In cooperation with the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs and the KAKAMPI, PAFI organized a Symposium on Migration, Peace, and Development in June 2013 to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the Philippine Migrant Workers Act in 1995. The Symposium issued a Declaration and Action Plan for the Further Promotion and Protection and Well-being and Dignity of Overseas Filipino Workers by which the participants resolved among others through wide advocacy of the rights of overseas Filipino workers to build the capacity of the workers to protect themselves in the first instance.  This is based on the philosophy that the ultimate protection of all migrant workers is their possession of skills, to call upon relevant agencies and institutions to undertake human resource development programs such as training and skills-upgrading and to promote the social integration of returning overseas workers through social interaction and community networking.

    To follow up the progress of the implementation of the Philippine Migrant Workers Act, PAFI held a second Symposium on Migration Peace and Development last 29 November 2015, again in cooperation with the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs and KAKAMPI.  A key observation of the 2nd symposium was the need to strengthen efforts to curb human trafficking. The symposium tackled new ground in discussing the cultural integration of migrant workers.

    In the context of the close collaboration between PAFI and KAKAMPI, I have suggested an overarching framework of action to sustain and strengthen our efforts to promote the well-being and dignity of OFWs, consisting of the following:

    1.Continue the OFW Gawad Parangal award as a source of inspiration and strength in all efforts to support OFWS, their dependents, and families

    2.Lobby in the Congress of the Philippines on matters affecting OFWs, their families, and their dependents;

    3.Cooperate with like-minded organizations in the fight against illegal recruitment and human trafficking and irregular migration;

    4.Strengthen partnerships between government, the media, academe, business sector, and
    the barangays:

    5.Assist in making available to government relevant and credible data;

    6.Participate in efforts to formulate and adopt a coherent approach to orientation programs such as PDOS, PEOS, and PAOS;

    7.Promote honest and effective services to OFWs, their families, and dependents;

    8.Encourage the private  sector to mobilize their CSR for the benefit of OFWs, their families and their dependents;

    9.Retain in respective programs of work a strategic approach to helping OFWs, their families, and dependents;

    10. Monitor relevant global and national developments affecting the interests of OFWs, their families, and their dependents and call the attention of authorities concerned to undertake appropriate action as the case may be;

    11. Continue massive information campaign and advocacy.

    PAFI will continue to work with KAKAMPI in creating and working with KAKAMPI  in creating and nurturing a culture of care and concern for Filipino overseas workers whose foreign exchange remittances have helped our economy to stay afloat in times of regional and global financial crises. For the year 2016, these remittances could amount to US Dollars 25 billion or roughly equivalent to 1/3 of the P3 trillion national budget.

    Economists have suggested that these remittances instead of remaining in the vaults of the Central Bank to bolster our foreign exchange reserves may be more fruitfully invested in the development infrastructures throughout the country to hasten national economic growth, and reduce unemployment and poverty.

    With the wise utilization of  OFWs’ remittances for faster and inclusive economic growth,  Filipinos may not need to look for jobs abroad for the reason that they could not find any in their own country.

    The migration of Filipino workers  may continue to be a socio-economic phenomenon in the 21st century but it may instead be hopefully a\ part of  increasing regional economic integration and the globalization of the world economy.  In any case, PAFI in cooperation with KAKAMPI  is committed to  keep the protection of migrant workers’ rights in its agenda.

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    3 Comments

    1. Why you have good intentions, you should be more concerned about caring for the workers in the Philippines. If the Philippines economy was managed properly, there would be sufficient domestic jobs, not as it is today where people have to flee the country as economic refugees, rather than starve in their own country.

      It sad that do-gooders like the author do not understand that the international labour marker if competitive, and increasing employers are looking at other nationalities other than the Philippines, because of the socialistic policies of the current administration.

    2. Edwin Subijano on

      I have never heard of KAKAMPI nor anyone I know ever had. Maybe I’m not up-to-date with current events but what I have seen of government or private help for OFWs nearly comes to zero. There is only one group that I know which tries to help OFWs and migrants and that is Migrante. Migrante doesn’t receive any money or help from the government but has done a lot more than the government to help OFWs and migrant Filipinos. Migrante has never been given recognition by the government or by any private institution in its effort to assist and aid OFWs and Filipino migrants. The Philippine government instead considers Migrante as a rival and an enemy. The reason is because the government is the enemy of the Filipino people !!!

    3. ops wow again we are dreaming of such caring for OFW. I have been abroad for 20 yrs. now. As of now these date there are no solid nor continues protection or policy the government had done. Again and again the contributions of OFW are just there and no body care until there are controversy just like the balik bayan boxes, maltreatment of OFW by their employer, changing of OFW contract, banning manpower agency or jailing the owner/employees, banning employer, ….. And were is the migrant workers magna carta I do not know what is these realy for there is no simple and straight forward meaning of OFW Magna Carta… I am surprise there are lots of OFW run away from their employer especially House maids as these are always the number one head ache and up to now POEA, POLO, OWWA, the Philippines Leaders have done nothing on these single matter.