Press Release
September 19, 2019

Nancy pushes for the creation of OFW family centers

Senator Nancy Binay has called for the creation of family centers for overseas Filipino workers all over the country which seeks to protect and strengthen the Filipino family.

In filing Senate Bill No. 975, or the "Left-Behind Household of OFWs Act," Binay wanted the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to establish OFW Family Centers using the facilities of its regional offices, or any of the regional offices of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The senator said the responsibility of each center shall be centered on the welfare of left-behind families of OFWs.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), an estimated 2.3 million OFWs worked abroad during the period of April to September of last year.

"They (OFWs) are not called modern-day heroes for nothing," she said.

According to the latest report from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, personal remittances from OFWs reached US$ 19.1 billion for the first seven months of 2019.

Personal remittances from OFWs totaled US$2.9 billion in July 2019, 7.2 percent higher than the US$2.7 billion in July 2018. On a cumulative basis, personal remittances for the period January to July 2019 increased by 3.6 percent to US$19.1 billion from last years' level of US$18.5 billion. This was announced by BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno on Monday (September 16, 2019).

The steady growth in personal remittances during the first seven months of 2019 drew support from the remittance inflows from land-based OFWs with work contracts of one year or more, which aggregated to US$14.6 billion from US$14.2 billion in the same period last year. Inflows from the compensation of sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts also contributed to this growth and totaled US$4.1 billion from US$3.8 billion a year ago.

Likewise, cash remittances from land-based and sea-based workers increased by 2.5 percent to US$13.4 billion and 8.9 percent to US$3.8 billion, respectively.

"In spite of profitable employment overseas, there are costs in terms of family relations for OFWs. Social problems arise within their families due to long separations between spouses and children," Binay said in her explanatory note.

Reports showed that the diaspora of Filipino workers to other parts of the world, leaving behind them their spouses and children, resulted in socio-emotional problems such as marital infidelity resulting in broken marriages, drug addiction, crime, suicide or psychological breakdowns, Binay said.

Binay cited Article XV Section 1 of the Constitution which states that "The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development."

The measure also seeks to direct the OWWA to develop a comprehensive re-unification, reintegration and replacement plan for returning OFWs.

Among the duties of OFW Family Centers that shall be strategically located in every municipality where there is a large population of families who have relatives working abroad are: (1) to provide welfare assistance and counseling services to the families of OFWs; (2) to serve as coordinating office to non-government organizations and associations that cater to the plight of OFWs; and (3) to serve as a link of left-behind households to various services and/or agencies of the government on overseas employment

The bill mandated OWWA to facilitate the establishment of organizations or support groups of families left behind by migrant workers.

The administration shall also provide a venue for the interaction of members of families of migrant workers.

Binay said the measure also mandates OWWA to report to Congress the number of cases brought to the various centers and the intervention provided three years after the implementation of the law.

"A yearly statistical report shall be submitted to the Department of Labor and Employment and other concerned agencies," the bill added.

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