(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 29, 2018 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Senators pressed concerned agencies yesterday to ensure that enough assistance is provided to displaced Filipino workers from Kuwait and other nations in the Middle East.
The senators made the call as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) suspended the processing of overseas employment certificates of Kuwait-bound workers in light of the death of seven overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
President Duterte earlier asked all OFWs in Kuwait to come home if another migrant Filipina worker dies from abuse.
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“We support the President’s deployment ban to Kuwait but we believe that this move must be accompanied with review and implementation of strict regulation,” Sen. Joel Villanueva, chairman of the committee on labor, said.
Citing records from the DOLE, he said there are 1,447 cases of maltreatment, 2,959 cases of contract violation, 227 sexual abuses and 63 cases of rape of Filipino workers for just a period of one year from 2016 in Kuwait alone.
Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate finance committee, said DOLE’s budget for programs for underemployed and displaced workers was nearly tripled in the 2018 national budget.
Legarda was referring to the DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disavantaged/Displaced (TUPAD) Workers Program, which is expected to benefit more unemployed workers this year.
She said the 2018 budget for program is P1.604 billion or nearly three times higher than the P531 million allocated for it last year.
TUPAD is a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers, for a minimum period of 10 days, but not to exceed a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of work to be performed.
Meanwhile, Sen. Manny Pacquiao gave P50,000 each to several OFWs deported from Saudi Arabia on Friday.
They all claimed they were terminated from work no less than by their respective employers without valid reasons.
One concerned citizen brought the distraught OFWs from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Araneta Colisuem on Friday evening where Pacquiao was leading the launching ceremony of Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
Aside from joining them at a dinner, Pacquiao gave them free tickets to watch the MPBL opening game.
“I told them not to lose hope instead they should strive harder to cope with the temporary setback in their lives. It’s not yet the end of the world. Maybe, God has other plans for them,” the senator said.
“With that amount, they can start a small business. It’s not that big but it can go a long way if the money is managed well,” he said.
Sumaya Macaoyag, 41, a resident of Esperanza town in Sultan Kudarat province, thanked Pacquiao for the cash assistance.
Other OFWs who arrived together with Macaoyag were Novena Vadil, 43; Jocelyn Javier, 32; Gilbert Bongato, 53; Renen Casas, 38; Roynald Mesde, 33; Marlon Sarmiento, 39; Ronnie Malones, 35; and Darwin Franco, 37.