Senator Juan Edgardo Angara has hailed the signing into law of a bill that institutionalizes and strengthens the government’s support for overseas Filipino workers and their families by introducing reforms to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
Angara said he was thankful to President Benigno Aquino III and his colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives for the passage into law of the legislative measure that strengthen the mandate of OWWA to address the concerns of our OFWs and their families,” said Angara, acting chairman of the Senate labor committee and sponsor and co-author of the new OWWA law.
Republic Act 10801 declares OWWA a national government agency and an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment.
Under the new law, it would now receive government funding instead of relying solely on the contributions of its OFW members.
The recently enacted law also increases the number of representatives from the OFW sector in the OWWA Board of Trustees from the present three to five (two from land-based OFWs, two from sea-based OFWs and one from the women sector), while representatives from the government will be reduced from seven to six.
“As the principal agency of the government that serves and promotes the rights, interest and welfare of OFWs and their families, the composition of the OWWA Board of Trustees must be reformed to really represent the OFW sector,” said Angara.
Under this law, the 2.4-million OFWs have more say in the disposition of the funds of the OWWA and the prioritization of programs and services.
RA 10801 further boosts the government’s capacity to assist migrant workers who lost their jobs by making the reintegration of OFWs one of the core programs of the OWWA. It will be funded with not less than 10 percent of the total collection every year.
The reintegration program includes granting of loans and other financial support, trainings in financial literacy, entrepreneurial development, techno-skills, business counseling as well as job referrals for both local and overseas employment.
The new law also seeks to ensure transparency in the utilization and management of the OWWA funds, and mandates the OWWA to maintain an interactive website to collect OFW feedback, comments, suggestions and complaints on existing programs and services.
“No matter how far our OFWS are from our country, we want to make them feel that through this law, they have a government who listens to them and immediately addresses their needs and problems.
“We should better equip and strengthen the OWWA so it can truly fulfill its special duty of developing and implementing welfare programs and services that respond to the needs of its member-OFWs and their families,” Angara said.