House to look into government's migration policy response

Published June 24, 2020, 8:54 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The House Committee on Public Accounts is set to look into the government’s migration policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the repatriation of over 51,000 Overseas Filipinos (OFs) and come up with a “comprehensive and wholistic approach” in addressing the plight of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

The Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao commences in the Plenary of the Batasang Pambansa on December 13, 2017. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Anakalusugan partylist Rep. Michael Defensor, committee chairman, disclosed that his panel will conduct a hybrid meeting on June 26 to look into the welfare of the OFWs following the directive of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

Under the hybrid set up,  some lawmakers and resource persons are expected to attend the meeting in the session hall, while others are present via Zoom Video Conference platform.

“Speaker Cayetano wants a comprehensive and wholistic approach in addressing their current plight abroad and when they’re brought back home,” he told the Manila Bulletin in a Viber message.

He said that with the increasing number of overseas Filipinos being repatriated, there is a need for the Lower Chamber to sit down with the concerned government agencies to ensure that the interest and welfare of the OFWs are safeguarded and promoted.

“We will try to map out the process and requirements from repatriation, quarantine, and reintegration of OFWs who will be brought back home,” Defensor said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs had earlier said it has brought home a total of 51,113 OFs, 57.33 percent or 29,302 are sea-based and 42.67 percent or 21,811 are land-based.

The repatriates arrived from Japan, Norway, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United States of America (USA), and Vietnam.

Defensor said among those invited to their hybrid meeting are Secretary Silvestre Bello III of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Leo Cacdac, National Reintegration Center for OFWs Officer-in-Charge Director Roel Martin, and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard Olalia.

He said representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, including two Ambassadors are also expected to join the meeting.

The DFA’s team includes DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola, Ambassador Adnan Alonto of the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia, and Ambassador Hjayceelyn Quintana of the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Defensor said four OFWs, including a nurse assistant in Riyadh, and a Human Resources director in Dusit Thani Hotel in Dubai, have also been invited to their meeting so that the panel could get a grasp of the real situation on the ground.

He said his panel also requested National Task Force on coronavirus disease (NTF COVID-19) chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and deputy chief implementer Vivencio Dizon to participate in their meeting.