Ensuring the protection of OFWs

PINAS extracted this report from Rappler news to encompass a hopeful resolution as we support the present administration to understand better the plight of our Filipino Workers. PINAS endeavours to work with our own media platform to disseminate the relevant news from agencies to better the lives of the Filipinos working abroad.

The protection of Overseas Filipino Workers in their host countries is paramount in implementing new policies, this was the Department of Labour and Employment Secretary Silvestre Abello’s main thrust.

Following growing concerns from researches and anecdotal reports, an estimated 6,092 Filipinos leave the country daily to seek greener pastures. Most of these workers are left vulnerable and alone.

In a recent round table discussion organized by Rappler, the Center for Migrant Advocacy, and the Working Group on Migration from the Department of Political Science at the Ateneo de Manila University agency heads gathered to discuss these problems and provide working solutions

Sexual abuse, harassment

According to reports, many Filipinos working abroad are exposed to violence, exploitation, and sexual harassment of their employers; and even incarceration.

Part of the problem is rooted in the mismatch of the OFW population with the number of Philippine embassies and consulates around the world.

According to CMA Director Elaine Sansa, there are only 80 Philippine diplomatic posts in 60 different countries that serve millions of OFWs.

It was also noted that with the growing number of  OFWs the capacity to respond to their needs is so limited,” there is this mismatch in numbers which leaves embassies and consulates “cash strapped.”

Government efforts

To help address this problem, it was mentioned that the government is proposing a P1-billion supplemental budget for the DFA in 2018. Part of this will fund the deployment of mobile teams, lawyers, rescuers, and vehicles to reach OFWs in far-flung  areas.

Cacdac also cited Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III when he mentioned that from “the OWWA abbreviation, the first letter stands for Overseas. Therefore, we have to increase the number of our people abroad. That’s how simple our objective is.”

Turning this plan into reality is not simple. There are at least two pre-conditions that must be met. First, the budget department must approve the proposed fund for the 500 positions. Second, the host government must approve the proposal to bring in more people.

“This day, the problem of lack of personnel is being addressed through the sending of augmentation teams, of rapid response teams,” Cacdac added.

Leverage demand

These government efforts and plans would not be enough to fully ensure the protection of Filipino migrant workers. The panelists agreed that the host countries of OFWs should also do their part.

“When we conclude arrangements with our countries of destination, they should realize that they are equally responsible for them,” Sana added.


During his campaign, President Rodrigo Duterte promised to make working abroad only an option, and not a necessity, for Filipinos.

Overall, the panelists agreed that a lot needs to be done to make this promise a reality, and much more to fully ensure the protection of Filipino workers abroad.

“Under our Constitution we are duty-bound to protect. Right now, it’s clear that we need more people on the ground. We need more people who can speak the langauge, the dialect, and know Filipino culture and bridge the gap between what needs to be done to protect our workers and fill in the shortcomings of the host countries,” Cacdac said.

(Full Attribution We thank Rappler for fully organizing this round table discussion as a way forward with the relevant agencies, Center for Migrant Advocacy, and the Working Group on Migration from the Department of Political Science at the Ateneo de Manila University, and for this truly engaging article which we share to our readers. )

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