BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance establishing a center for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the city.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. stated the establishment of the OFW center shall be guided by the fact that the local government affirms the fundamental equality before the law of women and men and recognizes the significant role of women in nation-building, thus it shall pursue and implement a gender responsive development policy and design an integrated gender and development support system taking into consideration women OFWs’ particularly vulnerabilities for abuse, health risk and special support for their families and the OFWs, documented or undocumented, shall be adequately protected and safeguarded and shall not be denied legal assistance, free access to court and quasi-judicial bodies in support for repatriation shall be guaranteed.
The OFW center shall be under the City Mayor’s Office which shall act as the coordinative, regulatory and monitoring body of the local government focused on OFW issues and concerns and to be an office rendering direct services to any OFW and OFW dependents.
Yangot proposed that the OFW center shall be empowered to have the coordinative and monitoring functions, regulatory functions and direct services such as legal assistance, medical, hospital, psychiatric and psycho-social interventions, livelihood assistance for displaced OFWs who are victims of trafficking and illegal recruitment, among others.
The ordinance added the budget for the operation of the OFW center shall be taken from the general fund of the local government annually.
Yangot claimed the OFW center shall maintain the various plantilla personnel in its operations and management such as a Development Management Officer IV, a Development Management Officer II, Social Welfare officer I, Legal Researcher and Clerk II.
Yangot admitted while recognizing the significant contribution of OFWs to national economy through their regular remittances, the local government shall, in coordination with national agencies, ensure the full protection of its constituents who are working abroad through its programs for social services, legal assistance and protection, as well as gender and development.
He claimed the establishment of a center for OFWs in the city and its programs shall rest on the assurance that the dignity and fundamental human rights and freedoms of OFWs shall not anytime be compromised or violated, thus the need to provide them the needed assistance to uplift their status.
Section 2a of Republic Act (RA) 8042 otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 as amended, provides that in the pursuit of an independent foreign policy and while considering national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest and the right to self-determination paramount in its relations with other states, the State shall, at all times, uphold the dignity of its citizens whether in country or overseas in general and Filipino migrant workers, in particular.
By Dexter A. See