By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Maria Lourdes “Nancy” Binay is now seeking the passage of a bill that would establish family centers for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) all over the country.
In filing Senate Bill No. 975, or the “Left-Behind Household of OFWs Act,” Binay said it is important to establish OFW Family Centers to protect and strengthen the Filipino family and to counterbalance the challenges faced by the closest kin and relatives of OFWs left in the Philippines.
Binay pointed out that the diaspora of Filipino workers to other parts of the world, leaving behind spouses and children has resulted in socio-emotional problems such as to broken marriages, drug addiction, crime, suicide or psychological breakdown.
Citing Article XV Section 1 of the Constitution, Binay said “the State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.”
“They (OFWs) are not called modern-day heroes for nothing,” Binay said.
“In spite of profitable employment overseas, there are costs in terms of family relations for OFWs. Social problems arise within their families due to long separations between spouses and children,” the senator further said in the explanatory note of the bill.
The bill mandates the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to facilitate the establishment of organizations or support groups of families left behind by migrant workers.
Under the bill, the administration shall also provide a venue for the interaction of members of families of migrant workers. The measure also mandates the OWWA to develop a comprehensive re-unification, reintegration and replacement plan for returning OFWs.
Under the measure, the proposed OFW Family Centers shall be strategically located in every municipality where there is a large population of families who have relatives working abroad.
These OFW Family Centers shall provide welfare assistance and counseling services to the families of OFWs; serve as coordinating office to non-government organizations and associations that cater to the plight of OFWs; and should serve as a link of left-behind households to various services and/or agencies of the government on overseas employment
Based on the latest data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there is an estimated 2.3 million OFWs that worked abroad during the period of April to September 2018.
According to the latest report from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the remittances from OFWs reached US$19.1-billion for the first seven months of 2019. Likewise, cash remittances from land-based and sea-based workers increased by 2.5 percent to US$13.4 billion and 8.9 percent to US$3.8 billion, respectively.