STATEMENT: On Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte coming home with OFWs

Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions, Inc. (MMCEAI)

President Rodrigo R. Duterte came home with at least 138 stranded Overseas Filipino Workers in the Middle East after completing his travel. These are the OFWs who availed the amnesty they were granted by the Saudi Arabian government. According to the President, more OFWs are coming home.

The President himself said that those who want to come home can be optimistic that they will be able to fly back to the country as he promised that his administration will do it’s best to serve the interest of the OFWs. The government is beefing up on their plans to help distressed OFWs by providing them the necessary assistance and creating services for them such as medical and skill enhancement in particular to learn new trades. President Duterte thanked the OFWs in his speech and mentioned that labor migrants are big contributions to the Philippine economy.

In addition, Sec. Silvestro Bello III announced that they were working for the pardon and release of the three OFWs in death rows. One of these three is Jennifer Dalquez who was sentenced to die after killing her employer claiming the latter attempted to rape her. Although there is still no official statement coming from the court in Abu Dhabi regarding Dalquez’s case, it is a clear manifestation of sincerity from the government to save those in death rows.   As of now, there are still 71 Filipinos on the death row.

Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions, Inc. applauds this administrations’ accomplishment as the Head of the country shows his intent to bring home distressed migrants. It is a victory to have our labor migrant brothers and sisters reunited with their families once more.

MMCEAI hopes that the repatriated OFWs will not just receive entrepreneurial kits to support them economically as they start their lives again but be provided with decent employment to sustain them. One of the reasons why Filipinos opt to leave the country and search for employment is the lack of jobs for Filipinos at home that can make them earn the amount that would suffice their families’ needs. More jobs in the Philippines and the enhancement of labor skills are two of the biggest needs labor migrants have.

This is also a call for the government, especially the attaches assigned in various countries, to be more vigilant. Establishing an effective tracking and monitoring mechanism for labor migrants especially in countries with high incidence of abuses is an imperative measure for the Philippines which is one of the top countries that provides the highest number of labor migrants in different continents. Tracking and monitoring the situations of labor migrants abroad can lead to quick and more effective responses from the government for distressed labor migrants. And locally, the government must not cease in their hunt for illegal recruitment and trafficking to prevent vulnerable aspiring OFWs to fall into their trap.

MMCEAI will continuously partner with the government and its stakeholders to ensure that the voices of the Filipino migrants and their families own a space to be heard and actions to address their concerns be materialized.