Group suggests regular review, audit of OFWs’ cases abroad
MANILA, Philippines — A party-list group has suggested that the government adopt a system where the status of cases faced by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in other countries would be reviewed periodically.
Advocates and Keepers Organization of OFW Inc. (AKO OFW) said during the hearing of the House Committee on overseas welfare affairs on Thursday that the government should be updated with the status of OFWs’ cases, especially for those facing criminal cases.
“We propose a real and tangible periodic audit of these concerns and the same be furnished to the legitimate NGOs (non-government organizations) actively advocating for the welfare and protection of OFWs,” AKO OFW president Marcia Sadicon told the panel, which sought a briefing on the status of OFWs who have pending criminal cases abroad.
“Such periodic audits shall likewise make the concern deploying agencies mindful and aware of the prevailing situations,” she added.
According to Sadicon, it is important for the agencies of government to be committed to the plight of these OFWs — noting that some of the overseas workers’ cases only get attention after the media cover them.
“For most, (the) plight of OFWs abroad, especially those with criminal cases at the country of employment, is equally significant in addressing their welfare. Yet, we in the private sector are not openly apprised of these regretful episodes upon which we could have actively responded as a multiplier in monitoring cases status for the benefit of the affected families,” she said.
Committee chair and Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo in turn asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the newly-constituted Department of the Migrant Workers (DMW) as to how they are monitoring the cases.
In response, DMW Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac said that they are working on a digital platform where the status of the cases faced by OFWs would be viewed and which would outline how the action fund has been spent.
According to the data provided by the DFA, there are 83 OFWs currently on death row — most of which can be found in Malaysia with 56, followed by the United Arab Emirates (six), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (five), and Indonesia (1).
There are also 15 others who are in danger of being executed across several countries like China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, United States, Japan, and Brunei.
The OFW on death row in Indonesia is Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina worker in Indonesia convicted for drug smuggling but claims to have been unaware that her luggage was rigged with illegal substances.
READ: DFA requests Indonesia’s executive clemency for Mary Jane Veloso
READ: Palace clarifies: No statement on Veloso case only means we’re being careful, not inaction
“Yes, Mr. Chair. Of course, we are very open to this, in fact yan ang isang gustong mangyari ni Secretary Toots Ople [sa] direktiba nya. We are developing a platform, digital platform that will be transparent to all kung pano natin gagamitin yung action fund na P1.2 billion,” Cacdac said.
(Yes, Mr. Chair. Of course, we are very open to this. That is what Secretary Toots Ople seeks with her directive. We are developing a digital platform that will make it transparent to all about how we will use the action fund of P1.2 billion.)
DFA Assistant Secretary Paul Raymond Cortes assured the panel that “they will come up with the periodic reporting on how these funds are used”, and how these initiatives affect OFWs.
Salo and OFW party-list Rep. Marissa Magsino asked the agencies to publish these reports and provide copies of it to relatives of the OFWs facing cases, while keeping in mind private details that should be excluded and kept to the respective OFWs’ families. With reports from Mae Anne Bilolo, trainee
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