Press Release
April 30, 2015

"Commemorate Labor day by honoring our Migrant Workers"

Today, we pay tribute to hardworking Filipino workers in the country, especially to our modern-day heroes: our Overseas Filipino Workers.

Government has to ensure that the rights and welfare of all workers especially our OFWs are protected. We must work tirelessly to create real change, the kind of change that can make their lives easier, better and enable their families to thrive in our growing economy.

With over 10 million Filipinos working abroad, it's about time we have a full-time department that will protect our OFWs and fight for their welfare.

In light of what took place in Indonesia, where Mary Jane Veloso was incarcerated over drug smuggling charges and almost put to death, I am reiterating my recommendation for the establishment of a Department of Foreign Employment (DOFE), a single unified agency focused solely on OFWs' needs, a government unit that will ensure that the case of Mary Jane will not be repeated, that no OFW falls victim to human and illegal drug trafficking and an agency that will do nothing except to protect their rights and promote their welfare.

It's high time our OFWs have a department of their own to make sure that the rights and interest of all overseas workers are safeguarded - from employment terms to ensuring that their rights are not violated in their country of employment, to ensuring the benefits are provided them without delay or hassle, to making it simple and easy for them to go in and out of the country whenever they chose to do so.

Apart from establishing the Department of Foreign Employment, we must also immediately address the redundant and difficult procedures and unnecessary fees that government agencies impose on our OFWs. Our OFWs must not be made to bear the burden of these agencies' inefficiencies. We need to change this by making these processes easier and efficient for them.

Today, I propose a three-point plan for the OFWs welfare: Abolish the overseas employment certificate (OEC), abolish all unnecessary and burdensome requirements for the exemption from the travel tax, and eliminate the airport terminal fee when paying for their airline tickets.

For our workers here at home, we will continue to call on government to address the most basic concerns of every Filipino worker: high prices of goods, lack of jobs, and low income. I firmly believe that the country's problems related to Presyo, Trabaho, Kita (PTK) should be properly addressed if we want every Filipino family to feel the benefits of our growing economy.

Our laborers deserve a living wage that they may provide for their families and that our kababayans won't have to go abroad to seek higher paying jobs that separate them from their families.

We genuinely recognize the great contributions of our OFWs to the development of our country's economy. I would like to emphasize, however, that our primary goal for the Filipino people is to create more jobs and better opportunities at home.

Ngayong Labor Day, ipakita natin sa mga manggagawang Pinoy na kaya nating matamo ang tunay na pagbabago. Baguhin ang pampahirap na sistema sa gobyerno, sugpuin ang anumang pumeperwisyo sa tao, at gawing mas madali ang buhay para sa bawat mangagawang Pilipino.

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