Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid has filed a bill requiring all heads of local government units (LGUs) to set up Overseas Filipino Workers Family Help Desks in their respective offices.
Lapid said this would help ensure family members of OFWs to have easy and fast access to basic social services.
“It is the policy of the State to protect, strengthen and promote the total development of the family as a basic autonomous social institution and as the foundation of the nation,” Lapid said in the explanatory note of Senate Bill No. 1094.
The bill, also known as the proposed “OFW Help Desk Act”, primarily seeks to require all heads of LGUs to create and establish an OFW Family Help Desk in their respective offices to provide assistance in addressing concerns of families of OFWs, including business counseling and livelihood opportunities.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) study show that approximately 2.3 million Filipinos work overseas from April to September 2018.
Although the main intent is to support their families, Lapid said the harsh reality is that the costs, such as the difficulty of living distantly from their families, overpowers the proposed benefits.
“As a result, the well-being of the families of the OFWs and/or the OFWs themselves are at stake,” he noted.
“Further, it leads to the weakening of family ties,” he further noted.
Under the bill, LGUs are mandated to keep a database of all concerned government agencies particularly the Philippine Overseas and Employment Agency (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on the updated list of overseas job orders and licensed recruitment agencies in good standing.
These data base, Lapid said, must be linked with the OFW Help Desks.
The bill covers all OFWs – sea or land-based, documented or undocumented.