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PIA Press Release
2009/04/29

Villar urges non–signatory state to sign worldwide pact to protect OFWs from 'recessionary racism'

By Freddie G. Lazaro

Vigan City (April 29) -- Senator Manny Villar joined the call of the Philippine government to other governments who have not signed the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICPRMW) to sign the pact to ensure the protection of migrant workers as well as their families.

He cited the necessity to protect any migrant workers in various countries worldwide from discrimination, human rights violation and other forms of abuses, particularly so-called 'recessionary racism'.

"As a country, with millions of citizens living and working in foreign lands, we have so much at stake in conventions and pacts concerning the protection of migrant workers. We should lead efforts to ensure that wherever our citizens, especially OFWs, are in the world, they will be treated fairly with respect and dignity," he said.

Villar's key advocacies include helping OFWs in distress by rescuing them from employers who maltreat them and shouldering their expenses in going home to the Philippines.

He also extends support to reintegrate OFWs, particularly those who were retrenched or displaced from their jobs, as productive members of the society.

He earlier filed the Overseas Filipino Investment Bill or Senate Bill 635, which seeks to promote the reintegration of OFWs in the Philippine society by helping them save, invest and engage in business ventures that would translate their hard-earned money into economic gains of the country and to create a new generation of overseas Filipino investors or OFIs.

Besides fuss-free procedures and risk-free opportunities, Villar's bill proposes the issuance of short and long-term OFI bonds by government banks; provision of government financial institutions (GFIs) of credit facilities for OFIs; the allocation of 10% of the total equity of governments existing businesses or enterprises for OFIs and their families; among other benefits and incentives such as income tax exemptions.

The Philippines is one of the world's leading sources for skilled and unskilled workers, there are up to nine million Filipinos or about 10 percent of the population, living and working in 140 countries. Last year, the total global deployment of OFWs surged to more than 1.376 million in more than 190 host destinations worldwide. According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), a total of on a daily basis, some 3,772 documented OFWs were deployed globally last year.

The former Senate President also reiterated his call on concerned government agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers' Welfare Association (OWWA) to be vigilant in shielding overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from any form of abuses.

He noted that the scarcity of job opportunities is causing desperation and anxiety among people and has also led to growing resentment that foreigners are getting jobs in other nationalities' home countries—a situation that has given rise to recessionary racism.

"The Philippine delegation has already presented the case of Filipino migrant workers and represented them before the World Conference on Racism in Geneva, Switzerland. And I do hope the delegates made a good case before the international body because during recessionary times, our migrant workers need protection and support," he said. (PIA Ilocos Sur) [top]

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