Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday pushed for government agencies such as the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to scrutinize international job placements and limit deployment to areas that are safe to work for migrant workers.
“Should the new Department of Migrant Workers study whether or not there are areas where we should really ban sending OFWs kung delikado sa kanila? And are there certain jobs too dangerous to allow our kababayans to go?” Cayetano said in his interpellation of Senator Raffy Tulfo who had given a privilege speech on cases of abuse of Overseas Filipino Workers.
“Maraming places around the world where in demand ang mga Pilipino. We can pressure our departments to have job openings in places where it is safer to work,” Cayetano added.
Cayetano, who was Foreign Affairs Secretary from 2017 to 2018 and is a member of the Migrant Workers Committee in the Senate, said OFWs should not be sent to certain countries, particularly those that are in conflict.
“Paano umabot ang OFWs natin sa point na napapahamak na sila? Nagkukulang sa imbestigasyon, tapos padala pa tayo ng padala. We should really study where Filipinos are most at risk,” he said.
Cayetano said many Filipinos find the need to work outside the country but the government helps them only when they are in trouble.
“Yes, Filipinos have to go out of the country to look for work, pero bakit sasaluhin lang kapag may problema na? Bakit hindi tayo humanap ng trabaho para sa kanila na less ang trabaho at pang-aabuso?” he said.
Cayetano said many OFWs do not even know where to turn to when they encounter problems while working abroad.
“Alam ba ng mga OFWs natin ang phone numbers ng mga embassy natin? Umaalis ang mga kababayan natin na ang alam lang nila ay y’ung number ng recruiter nila at y’ung sasalong recruiter sa destination country nila. There are simple things that we can do to make life abroad safer para sa mga kababayan natin,” he said.
Cayetano said part of the blame goes to some government officials who lack empathy with OFWs.
“Minsan kulang sa empathy yung iba nating mga opisyales, parang alam nila y’ung nangyayari pero parang statistic na lang sa kanila y’ung mga nangyayari sa mga OFWs natin… Hindi statistic ito, tao ang bawat isa na nandito,” he said.
Cayetano said he hopes the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers and concerned government agencies would closely coordinate with each other so that OFWs could find a safe place where they could bring attention to their problems and issues.