Hontiveros seeks probe on gov’t reintegration plan for OFWs displaced by pandemic

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros is pushing for a Senate review into the government’s plans to reintegrate overseas Filipino workers (OFW) and their families who were displaced by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Hontiveros said she has filed Senate Resolution No. 445 which calls for a Senate investigation into the government’s reintegration programs for OFWs to ensure that these will address their needs.

“We must put an end to the suffering of our migrant workers and their families during this pandemic,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Dapat may malinaw tayong plano para tugunan ang financial, medical at mental health needs ng dumaraming bilang ng OFW na bumabalik sa bansa,” she added.

In the resolution, Hontiveros said it is imperative for the government to have a comprehensive plan in responding to the needs of around 300,000 OFWs and their families affected by the pandemic.

“It is essential that the government’s return and reintegration programs take the needs of OFWs and their families into account in developing and implementing financial aid programs for households in distress, mental health and psycho-social services, and medical assistance in relation to COVID-19, including mandatory testing,” she said.

The senator also said that the government should also ensure that it can provide long-term assistance to OFWs as it remains uncertain whether they will be able to return to their jobs overseas.

“Hindi lang ang mas mabilis na testing at mas maayos na byahe pauwi ang dapat siguraduhin ng pamahalaan para sa ating OFWs. Dapat may long-term assistance din sa kanilang kabuhayan at kalusugan ngayong marami ang matagal pa o hindi na makakabalik sa kanilang trabaho abroad,” she said.

Hontiveros also stressed the necessity of providing ample livelihood assistance to OFWs, particularly female workers, “who are likely to suffer more from the loss of jobs and livelihood brought by the pandemic.

Citing a report entitled “Women, Migration and Reintegration” by Estrella Dizon-Añonueva and Augustus T. Añonuevo, Hontiveros noted that a majority of Filipino migrants do not have any substantial savings, and have more difficulty in adjusting to the lack of economic opportunities in the Philippines.

The government’s efforts for OFWs, she said, must extend to social and mental health assistance for their families dealing with the sudden return and reintegration of their OFW family members into their households and communities.

“Government has to help our OFWS overcome these unseen but important issues,” Hontiveros said.

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