HOR Sets Aside OFW Demands Under Bayanihan 3: Insensitive to the Plight of OFWs

Press Statement, 26 May 2021

With the strong support of Congresswoman Arlene Brosas of Gabriela Women’s Partylist, the demands of OFWs for an additional P10,000 aid to ALL OFWs affected by the pandemic especially for those who have not been able to avail of the DOLE-AKAP and an additional P20K livelihood assistance for repatriated and displaced OFWs were pushed to be included in the amendments of the Bayanihan 3 during a 2nd plenary session of the HOR. However, the House of Representative resulted in reduced financial relief for our impoverished people, especially our workers and rejected demands of OFWs for more cash relief at this time of the pandemic.

Overseas Filipino workers, just like other sectors in the Philippines, are suffering from the impacts of COVID-19. A record number of 18,540 have been infected in 94 countries and 1,160 have already died.

Reports from Migrante International chapters around the globe depict various forms of government neglect and lack of protection especially for OFW healthcare frontliners. Racism, discrimination, stigmatization and work overload have become more prevalent as migrant workers are used as scapegoats in the spread of the virus. Nonetheless, OFWs endure all these rather than lose their jobs, unable to send support to their families especially during this pandemic.

It must be recognized that more than a million OFWs around the globe have been displaced due to COVID 19, according to the Department of Labor and Employment. This number does not include those who undergo flexible work arrangements, temporary layoffs and others forms of reduction in their income. And even worse, many have not received their salaries after being dismissed or terminated from their job.

Migrante International deplores the Duterte government’s inconsistent and incompetent financial assistance through the DOLE-AKAP program since the peak of the pandemic. It is not enough that the DFA reports the number of repatriated overseas workers. Our urgent call #AyudangSapatParaSaLahat demands increased budget to provide services and livelihood for our economic heroes and their families.

We have our kababayans who experienced threats of homelessness due to unexpected termination of their working contracts or cancellation of their flights without assurance of available flight booking. Specifically, these are being experienced by our OFWs in Hong Kong. Sadly, we received reports that some were given rice instead of a place to stay by our Philippine Consulate.In Saudi Arabia, hundreds if not thousands of our OFWs who were abandoned by employers remain stranded. While they tried to struggle for their compensation and benefits from employers, they are in need of shelter, food and medicine.

These are among the horrible experiences of our so-called economic heroes and the reason for the urgency in providing them with financial aid. They are heroes to the government when they send their remittances to their love ones but treated like rags when lose their jobs, abandoned by employers and become stranded overseas.

Thus, we reiterate our demands for additional relief for OFWs under BAYANIHAN 3. In particular, we demand:

1. Php10,000 financial assistance each for an estimated one million displaced OFWs, sea-based, land-based, documented and undocumented – the initial budget allocated through the DOLE-AKAP program is not enough and thousands of OFWs were not able to access this;

2. Php20,000 livelihood assistance for every repatriated OFW who is sent home because of their challenges in finding employment in order to provide for their families despite the Tulong Puso, Balik-Pinas, Balik-Hanapbuhay Program and funds from OWWA.

Since this is about life and survival at this time of the global pandemic, we demand nothing less.###